The Solomontown Cats continued their hot-and-cold, early-season form with a win for the ages against the much-improved West Augusta Hawks in an entertaining high-quality affair in Port Pirie on Saturday.
Coming off a disappointing loss against the Lions, Sollies were without the key cogs in Riley Hayes, Redman and Bearman. Coach Head knew the pressure would be on and would need all on song to win this one and he had his charges flying from the opening bounce. An eight-goal first term was superb with good run and spread and importantly their accuracy was much better in front of goal. The Hawks steadied the ship and held sway in term two with the Cats kicking away again to open a 39-point lead at the final break before running out of steam somewhat. The Hawks finished hard with 8 of the last 9 goals, but the damage was done leaving the locals victorious by 9 points.
Sollies were admirable in their combined efforts and weren't prepared to use the outs as an excuse for a below-par performance. Their rolled-gold midfield duo in Davey (4 goals) and Jonno Hayes stepped up for huge games while Knibbs, who played his first league game this year, slotted six as a hard-to-tie-down forward. There were good players all over in a real team effort that pleased all at the cattery.
For the Hawks their barnstorming finish gave them something to take from the game, but they would be disappointed with their worst defensive effort for the year, giving up over 5 goals more than their previous three games. Their onballers were good with Ryan, Curley, Collins and Allen again playing well, but they really only won the last quarter to any great effect.
Good win in trying circumstances! Cats 15.7.97; West 13.10.88
South give Lions a free audit
The South Augusta Dogs seemed to sense the impending rise of the Prop-Risdon Lions and flexed their muscles to swat them away with a powerful performance at Central Oval. The Lions were looking forward to the test as they hadn't beaten South for some time and were unbeaten in 2019. The power and run from South gave Lions coach Promnitz a real audit of his players under high pressure and showed they still have work to do.
Lions first quarter had been their key all year, but it was the Dogs who led into the first change before they put their foot to the floor in the second, booting 9 goals to 1 and effectively ending the contest with a 9 goal lead. Lions largely stemmed the carnage in the second half, but South still extended the lead to a final margin of 68 points.
Kriston Thompson continued his early-season, stellar form with class and poise making him an early season Madigan Medal watch. Gary Warren put in a beauty for his second game of the year and bagged 6 goals in match-high performance with 3 each to Fuschtei and Horner. Downey is the best big man in the competition and gave their fleet of runners first crack at it and Holland, Kildea, McKenzie and Glass took full toll of it.
For Lions they were harder to find this week with Horsnell making the most of his chances with a 4 goal haul added to the 3 from Steele who was pushed forward. Dyer continued his good season and Eckert and Fuller found a bit of it without their usually-dominant four-quarter performances.
Lions lowered their colours for the first time this year and will be better for the experience. They now know where they need to be. South 20.17.137; Lions 10.9.69
Phillips heroics still not enough
Central Augusta Bloods heaped more sorrow upon the winless Port Bulldogs in a high-scoring affair that saw both sides score triple figures. In a marquee game for the Bloods with Ryan Struck reaching 350 league games and Mark Fuller 250, it was the evergreen Phillips that put in a season high stellar performance with 11 goals for the game as he wound back the clock. His laser-like accuracy, doubled-sided skills and ability to read the ball has been a hallmark of his game and all this was on show for the crowd on the tight confines of ETSA Oval.
Port started okay with 7 goals straight to lead by 14 before Central pulled it back to a real arm-wrestle until mid-last-quarter before Central pulled away to win by 3 goals in front of an appreciative home crowd. Struck and Fuller were good in their milestone games, but it was Nathan Khan who led the way with plenty of the leather. Reid booted a half-dozen goals along with 4 from Hull and Baulderstone.
For Port, Phillips was the standout with good games from Vivar and Coe who found a lot of it. Cooke was again good and young Patrick McNamara played his best game at senior level since making his debut. Central move back into the four while Port worryingly trail all sides by 2 games with only 4 rounds being played. The season is still young, but wins will be welcomed on Wandearah Road. Central 18.10.118; Port 16.4.100
Round 5 preview
In a fantastic initiative from the SGL, the three days of Round 5 in the SGL is deemed White Ribbon Round to highlight awareness of ending the scourge of violence against women and in particular domestic violence. Port and Sollies should be congratulated on coupling this round with a Ladies Night under the lights in the spectacular surrounds of the Memorial Oval function centre.
Friday night lights
Port and Sollies take to Memorial Oval to put the revamped Oval to its first SGL night game this Friday in what is promising to be a spectacular night! Port are under the pump already this year being 2 games off the pace and, despite showing good signs in games, they are averaging losses out at around 5 goals with injuries and unavailability hurting them.
Sollies also have been hit with similar issues, but showed real ticker last week to produce a win of great character. Coach Head will be looking for a repeat of this effort as Sollies hope to close out one complete round of all sides with a 3-2 win record.
Phillips was on fire last week and Port need an extra route to goal so maybe hope that Athanasos or Byerlee if used forward could be that marking target so desperately needed. Runners Coe, Vivar, Keane, Dickeson and Hutchison will need to be on song and big man Cooke will be keen for a big one against his old club. Sollies key will again be Davey who can both rack up possessions while impacting the scoreboard at the same time. Jonno Hayes is as constant as the North Star and rarely puts in a quiet one and the Cats would be hoping for returns from Bearman, Redmond and Riley Hayes to add to Joe Caputo, Sciangalepore, Francis and Marco Caputo, amongt others, to run the Dogs ragged. Sollies will have the big-man advantage with Lawson Munzberg in particular in sparkling form coupling with brother Lawson and Bernhardt giving the Cats options. It should be a beauty, but the Cats will be favoured by 4 goals.
Lions look to make amends
Prop-Risdon will be looking to round out the first round of 5 games with only 1 defeat and again travel to Port Augusta on Saturday to face Westies. The Hawks have improved immensely this year playing with flair and spread. This will be entertaining and high-scoring with Horsnell having plenty of opportunity to add to his tally along with Steele if used there again and the fit-and-fast Dyer who is enjoying his time up front. Eckert is loving the midfield and his coupling with Fuller is the equal of any two in the SGL.
The Hawks will look to Collins, Allen and Ryan to drive their onballers toward Von Senden, Hobbs and Dalla Santa to kick a winning score. This will be entertaining, but Lions by 12 points.
South will beat Central in the last game to round out the round by about 6 goals in the first Sunday game for the season
Confusion over ineligible player
An interesting mix-up has led to South Augusta playing Aziel Stuart in Round 3 when local laws meant he was ineligible to play. Trying his luck at SANFL level this year, the 2018 Madigan Medallist had a free weekend due to the SANFL v WAFL game in Perth and came home to play. But a check of the laws highlighted he should not have played at a weekend that Sturt have off. The repercussions aren't clear and whether it will be a fine or loss of the game/points is still up in the air at time of printing.