South on cloud nine
Monday, 15th April, 2019
By Tyler Hannigan
South claimed their ninth consecutive men’s Credit Union Lightning Cup on Saturday but not before a scare by a rejuvenated West and an ugly halftime brawl at the Jubilee Oval.
The men’s final saw the Roos take on West after both sides had won their semi-finals earlier in the afternoon against North and Central, respectively, and it was the Robins who had the best of the first half.
A new-look West midfield controlled the centre-clearances with Jayden White and former South premiership skipper Michael Westley winning a lot of the ball. Fellow new recruit Cohen Turner provided a strong option inside West’s forward fifty while promising junior Brock Ellis looked dangerous whenever he went near the ball.
West put on three goals but South were able to stay in touch with two of their own.
Tensions boiled over late in the term with players engaging in some push and shove but things really got ugly at halftime when a spectator entered the West team’s huddle and a melee ensued.
“The incident seen today at halftime of the men’s final was not acceptable,” AFL Broken Hill chairman Andrew Schmidt said.
“It will be investigated and all of those involved will be processed under the rules in place from AFLBH, AFL NSW/ACT and the AFL.”
Once the break was over and play restarted, South looked a much better side, especially around the stoppages. Mitch Henderson started to out-ruck West veteran Matt Nelson while South skipper Marc Purcell and Luke Lines were first to the ball and sent South forward with regularity.
The Roos hit the scoreboard and took advantage of some ill-discipline from the Robins to take the lead. West were able to keep pace but a fantastic goal from a tight angle by Connor Washbrook really gave South the momentum and they did not relinquish the lead, eventually winning by eight points.
It was a great effort by West but after their terrific start they’ll feel they let one slip. It’s something that coaches David Ruddock and Chris Jones will stress to the group that honourable losses are nice but they don’t win flags.
On the winning side, South were able to get the job done even without a plethora of their stars including Cody Schorn, Arlen Bird, Drew Hardy, Marcus O’Brien and Matt Reavill as well as Jordan Johns for the final.
In their absence, a number of junior Roos stood up such as Tyler McKenzie and Adam Slattery who, despite needing a special clearance to play senior football because of his age, looked at ease in the forward line across both games.
Earlier in the day, South pummelled the Bulldogs who were without star players Jayden Kelly, Codie Howard, Zach Doyle, Matt Dempster and Mitch Reberger just to name a few. The Roos did as they pleased an ran out winners by more than 10 goals.
West had a similarly simple path to the final as they dismantled Central by 48 points in game two. Tom Rowe, White and Westley were all impressive for the Robins while Jake Picton, Hamish McLean and Jason Masclet competed well for the Magpies.
North and Central’s consolation game was competitive for the first half although the Dogs definitely had control. They then took advantage of a Magpies side playing back-to-back games in very warm conditions to run away in the second half and win by 39 points.
Tyler McInnes was at his creative best for the Dogs while Brock Elliott looked good across half-back and Jarred Burcher did some nice things in attack. Masclet, Josh Hanford and James Bressanelli were Central’s best.
With the preseason now out of the way, round one kicks off on ANZAC Day with Central taking on West at the Jubilee Oval on Thursday April 25 before South and North complete the round on Saturday April 27, also at the Jubilee Oval.
Game 1 South: 9.9 - 63 def North: 0.2 - 2
Game 2 West: 8.8 - 56 def Central: 1.2 - 8
Game 3 North: 7.5 - 47 def Central: 1.2 - 8
Final South: 6.3 - 39 def West: 5.1 - 31