Thriller over the hill
Monday, 8th July, 2019
By Tyler Hannigan
It was a game that was billed as the match of the season and it certainly lived up to the hype as South and West finished in a draw on Saturday at the Alma Oval.
While the teams split the points and West remain on top with a better percentage, they’ll feel like they let one slip after leading by 32 points at halftime following a strong first half.
The Robins made a fantastic start to the game in what was a shootout in the first term. They scored goals from their first two entries inside fifty, through Rourke Turner and Brock Ellis, and while Mitch Henderson got South on the board with a nice running snap, West responded with two more goals including one due to an infringement by a South water carrier.
South started to get their hands on the ball and made it count with Adam Slattery and the returning Cody Schorn booting a goal apiece but again West had a response and they finished strongly with Ellis and Tom Rowe kicking both their second goals of the game.
It was a fast, free-flowing term of football with nine goals kicked and West held an 18-point lead at the first change.
West carried that momentum into the second term and dominated the play around the midfield, allowing them to go forward with regularity and despite goals from Rourke and Cohen Turner, they failed to take full advantage.
This was partly due to some resolute defence from South but also some wastefulness in front of goals by the Robins. Still, West led by more than five goals heading into halftime.
West defensive pressure and structure, which has been a trademark of their play in 2019, was again on full display as they took space away from the Roos and continually forced turnovers. This, combined with midfield superiority, had them in full control of the contest.
Daniel Milne, Liam King and Michael Andruszkiewicz were standouts in the first half for the Robins while Riley Schorn and Jordan Johns were keeping South in the contest, along with defender Angus Collins.
However, the Robins were dealt a blow in that second term as Josh Cieslik injured his hamstring and would take no further part in the game.
West picked up where they left off after the restart with Cohen Turner kicking an early goal to extend their lead and it looked like they might be able to run away with the game but South were having none of that.
The Roos finally clicked into gear in around the stoppages with Johns and Luke Lines really starting to have an impact and this led to repeat inside fifty entries. Cody Schorn booted his second while Harley Cannard and Todd Davidson, in his first game of 2019, added important goals to cut the margin to 18 points at three-quarter time.
Injuries were really starting to hamper the Robins with both Michael Westley, who had done another great tagging job on Marc Purcell, and Matt Nelson both forced off the field.
Nelson’s absence left a glaring hole in the ruck with Jake Crozier having to compete against Henderson and Jordan Holmes and while he battled as best he could, he was severely outclassed.
The match was certainly up for grabs at the start of the final term but the first goal would be crucial and it was South’s captain, Purcell, who came through for his side with a brilliant individual effort to reduce the deficit to just 12 points.
The Roos controlled the play and apart from the rare foray forward by West, the game was mostly played in South’s half with the Robins doing their best to hold on.
Tensions boiled over after South were on the receiving end of a pair of fifty-metre penalties, the second of which was particularly harsh. Both penalties resulted in South goals, first to Henderson and the second to Cody Schorn for his third of the match.
Schorn’s goal tied the scores at 9.7 (61) apiece although the scoreboard attendant, possibly distracted by the melee that ensued following the second fifty-metre penalty, failed to add the goal to South’s tally although most at the ground realised what the score was.
South continued to push as time ticked away and the sun set but they were unable to find another score before the siren blew and the game ended in a draw. It was the first draw in AFL Broken Hill League football since South tied with North in round 18, 2015.
Cody Schorn finished with three goals and while Hagen Grose did a great job on the star forward, Schorn kept pushing all day and took his chances when they arose. Henderson also chipped in with two for South.
Ellis and Rowe, as well and Cohen and Rourke Turner all finished with two goals each for West.
Johns was brilliant throughout, especially considering he came in under an injury cloud. The South champion won plenty of the football across halfback and in the middle and, along with Riley Schorn, kept his side in the contest.
Riley Schorn continued another great season while Adam Slattery, playing more up the ground than in previous weeks, showed class and composure well beyond his years. Collins was important down back and Luke Lines had plenty of the ball while Jordan Holmes and Henderson stood up in the second half.
Andruszkiewicz was West’s best over the course of the four quarters in his most impressive performance for the Robins since joining the club at the start of the season. He played across halfback, using his supreme skills and decision making to great effect.
King wasn’t far behind Andruszkiewicz and accumulated so much of the ball through the first three quarters before dropping off slightly late. Rourke Turner was again very good, as were Milne, Rowe, Westley and Nathan Greenshields while Ty Andrews was solid in defence.
The teams now get a week’s rest due to the SA championships next week. West take on Central in round 10 while South host North at the Alma.
SOUTH: 3.1 3.3 6.6 9.7 (61) drew
WEST: 6.1 8.5 9.6 9.7 (61)
South: C. Schorn 3, M. Henderson 2, M. Purcell, T. Davidson, H. Cannard, A. Slattery
West: R. Turner 2, C. Turner 2, T. Rowe 2, B. Ellis 2, C. Smith
South: J. Johns, R. Schorn, A. Slattery, A. Collins, J. Holmes, M. Henderson, L. Lines
West: M. Andruszkiewicz, L. King, R. Turner, D. Milne, T. Rowe, M. Westley