Three games for the weekend and Port Pirie v Port Augusta for all and sadly the local sides were twice on the losing side of the ledger in a keenly fought weekend.
South repeats grand final result over Solomontown
South Augusta has quickly grabbed season 2018 by the scruff of the neck and will take some moving from the early favouritism status.
Sollies were confident and fired up and with the benefit of the breeze started brightly and lead by three goals to zip at the first change. The Cats fought hard in the second but were headed by the travellers by nine points at half time. This is pretty much where it finished as a contest though as the longer it persisted the larger the gap, 18 at the last break and 47 at full time. After quarter time it was 12 goals to 2, albeit with the Dogs having the wind twice, still a dominant performance.
The Cats welcomed back previous captain Saracino to the fold after a year off with injury, youngsters Munzberg and Sciangalepore were good along with Mezzino in defence but Jonno Hayes was best and capped his second good game in a row with a couple of goals.
For South, as predicted both Brown with five goals and Milera with one and a stack of possessions were difficult to contain, Kerin and Shirley were strong and resolute in defence and Stuart showed his class all day. They had plenty of good performers and plenty to like as they sounded an ominous warning to the rest of the competition they mean business and racked up two from two. Solomontown 5.9.39 South 12.14.86
Barnstorming Bloods knock over fading Lions
Lions would have had a quiet trip home late Saturday after being very good for large parts of this game only to surrender the lead late against the again fast finishing Central side. Centrals nearly stole it against Solly the week before but held their momentum this time to snatch victory in the last with the last four goals of the game by a goal in an entertaining clash.
Lions were left without playmaker Patterson and firebrand Marsland courtesy of the tribunal but started brightly to use the breeze well for a 22 point quarter time lead. Lions runners looked good and headed into the second full of steam. Central settled and ground out two goals of their own in the second but importantly held Lions scoreless to reduce the margin to eight. The Lions increased it again to 21 at the last break and despite kicking into it in the last were confident they could prevail. Central got an early one through Brendan Colson but when Bradley replied with a goal about 10 minutes in, the margin remained above three goals and the Lions looked to be home. From here though Lions didn’t score again and Central straightened up their play and started getting clearances. Armstrong goaled and then Kyle Colson, basically unsighted till this point, bobbed up for two in a minute to put the black-and-reds two points down. A couple more points were registered for the fast finishing locals before the classy Allen goaled to close out a tight six-point win.
For the victors it was the usual suspects that stepped up in class onballer Fuller, the reliable Eckert and their under-rated skipper in Sean Edwards that was the driving force for the Lions. Horsnell, Oliphant and Bradley all kicked two but no-one really set them alight up front in a difficult blustery day. Central 11.7.73 Prop Risdon 10.7.67
Port wear down Hawks for solid victory
Port Travelled up to Port Augusta to meet West in their middle of their undesirable Sunday, Sunday, Sunday start to the season and come home with the chocolates with a comfortable but grinding six-goal win.
New West coach McKenzie will have his work cut out for him with this young group that shape as likely wooden spooners based on early season form. Their confidence would have taken a battering against the chiselled South outfit last week but nonetheless they were up for the fight early.
The Hawks kicked with the breeze yet trailed at quarter-time by a goal but held their resolve in the second to see that gap only rise to 16 despite Port having the breeze in the second. West failed to capitalised in the third again with the gap not bridged at all and in the last the dogs kicked away to win by six goals.
It’s fair to say there will be better contests throughout the year as both sides spent large portions of the game camped out wide on the wings with direct play down the middle proving a rarity. Both defences were working well helped with inconsistent delivery coming in. West lacked focal points and that’s where the difference was with Woodards putting in a good display across half forward to bag four plus Groves finished with three from full forward whilst for West Dadleh was their only multiple goal scorer on two but rarely threatened as he can.
West’s standout for the day was Singleton at full back with his spring heeled athleticism proving tough for Port’s star import Groves and he made him work for every possession in a great one on one battle. Curley battled hard, big man Hore tried hard whilst Collins shone a bit less frequently but was still serviceable.
For Port their best was Mitch Collins who was strong and aggressive all day, Woodards for his day up front plus Sean Jared showed he has both time and class when around the ball. West fought hard but lacked the cattle and whilst it wasn’t pretty but Port will take it. It’s their first win since round 10 last year and their first win at Central Oval in Port Augusta since the oval has been redeveloped. It’s been a lean trot but signs are improving with bigger tests to come. West 5.5.35 Port 10.11.71
Again three Port Augusta sides versus three Port Pirie sides with the pick of the games here in Pirie.
Saturday – Port Pirie – Port v Central Augusta
Both of these sides won last week having lost their first and this will help everyone see how the pecking order will look for season 2018 in an important early in the year clash.
If Port want to play finals then they need this win after dropping their opener to Lions.
Port’s forward line showed potential with Woodwards and Groves as tall targets along with the clever Phillips at their feet giving them good options. Delivery is the key here as it hasn’t been great so far this year.
Central’s attack also has teeth with last year’s leading goal kicker Brendan Colson joined by his brother Kyle plus Morris got a few last week and their running brigade lead by Allen is dangerous.
Port have good youth in Fraser Collins, Puddy, Akker and Gray and will need their run as the Bloods have finished hard in both their two openers showing they are fit this year and have depth.
It’s in Pirie and this will be tight. Port by three points.
Saturday – Port Augusta – South v PropRisdon
Tough assignment here for the Lions as they head to Port Augusta for the second week straight but this time against the imposing red-and-white league leaders in South. Lions will need all their guns to be on their games with huge effort required from Fuller, Eckert, Edwards, Horsnell, Dyer, Bradley, Harmer and Ley for the Lions to remain in the game.
There hasn’t been too many armour chinks on show from South so it must be endeavour and persistence that wins the day for Lions.
South look very good, medallists Downey and Kildea remain on song, their chief goalkicker Colson last year has been replaced by the even more elusive Brown who is an excitement machine plus Clayton Milera has skills galore. Add to this the solid consistent nature of Kerin and Shirley and the run of Thompson, Stuart, Warren, Maule and Holland and Lions are in for a torrid day.
Lions will remain in this for large parts of the day but the Dogs have too much class and will win. South by 34 points.
Sunday – Port Augusta – West v Solomontown
Sollies get the chance to return to the winner’s circle and should do this against the rebuilding West outfit. The Hawks showed better signs last week but the Cats are a better side and will pose more headaches with their spread and run on the expansive Central Oval in Augusta.
The battle in the middle will be a beauty with the classy ex-medallist Nic Collins coming up against the in-form Jonathon Hayes who has sensational hand and peripheral vision to bring Sollies outside runners into play. Sollies have height in Muller (if back) Bernhardt, Munzberg and the returning youngster Jeremiah Scrutton who will be looking for a break out game. Add their runners in Bearman, Mezzino, Caputo, Redman, Goodridge and Francis and there will be too many for the Hawks to contain.
Both Singleton and Packard are good defenders plus Hore gives them a target, Curley will fight hard plus others in Laube, Cammarano, skipper Dadleh and Harrison can all contribute and will need to for the Hawks to get close. I’m tipping they can’t and the Cats to run out comfortable winners. Solomontown by 45 points on the road.