South's win at Memorial
The Great Escape
By Ben Sheffield (BDT)
South 1.1 (7) 3.5 (23) 6.9 (45) 11.9 (75)
Central 1.2 (8) 4.4 (28) 7.8 (50) 10.9 (69)
South have overcome a dogged Central in the final minutes of the game to steal a memorable six point victory at Memorial Oval on Saturday.
After trailing at quarter, half and three quarter time, South kicked five goals to three in a frantic final quarter, to claim the 11.9 (75) to 10.9 (69) win.
With only minutes to go, Jordan Staker kicked his third goal to put South six points clear.
True to the pattern of the game, Central managed to respond, with Adam Rhodes taking a superb mark from a floating kick forward and calmly converted his third goal to level the scores.
But it was Jayson Higgins who was the hero, soccering the ball off of the ground and through for a goal after a desperate passage of play from both sides.
The siren sounded soon after, giving South the points from an engrossing contest, in which the biggest margin for the afternoon was a mere thirteen points.
The win means South remain equal top and gives them a very real hope of securing direct grand final qualification.
Central remain at the bottom of the ladder, but that belied the fierceness of their play and their intensity all day as they pushed the Roos for the full four quarters.
South had control of general play in the opening quarter of football, but failed to make an impact on the scoreboard.
Drew Hardy was running hot for the Roos, impressing with the amount of possession he got and the quality of his ball use.
But Central's defence was steadfast, with Linden Cox in particular denying South's forwards on a number of occasions.
Central raced out of the blocks in the second quarter with a three goal burst, giving them a thirteen point advantage, which South had whittled down to a five point deficit by half time.
The third quarter was similar to the first, in that South were having the better of the contest, but could not build a meaningful lead.
Paul Christie broke into the game in the second half, with the Wes Judd tag on him proving less successful than in the first half.
Mitchell Montgomery kicked two goals in quick succession to have Central five point leaders at three quarter time.
The desperation of the two sides to win was evident from the outset of the last quarter, with the crowd becoming increasingly vocal as the match tracked toward the final siren.
The lead changed hands four times in the last quarter, with South in front by six points when it mattered.
South coach, Robert Hickey, was pleased to come away with a win from the tight encounter.
“We spoke before the game, they've got a quality list, it was a quality game and we were fortunate enough to get over them in the end.”
But Hickey did have a few concerns about the contest and the structure of his side, in particular the lack of forward targets, with Marcus and Simon O'Brien starting the match inside 50 for the Roos.
“We just can't rely on one key position forward in Ty Corey and we haven't got another key position forward in our side, so we tried to get some pace down there.
“We've got to get some more goals out of other players down there,” he said.
Hickey was also concerned about the delivery into the forward line and the presentation of his forward targets.
“Our forwards need to be in front, not be trying to win the footy from behind... you shake your head sometimes.
“In the second half, we started to use the footy a bit better going forward rather than kicking straight to an opponent,” he said.
Hickey said that he was looking forward to next week's battle against North and that South could be missing a number of first choice players, including Mark Purcell.
Central Assistant Coach, Brendan Cullen, was pleased with the spirit of the Central players through the game and in recent weeks.
“The boys are really enjoying their football and we're getting plenty of numbers on the track each week, he said.
Cullen cited Central's defensive unit as a highlight of the game.
“Zayden White played a good game and Linden Cox, it's a pretty good role for him back there.”
Having hit a good run of form, Central consider themselves a possibility to go deep into the finals.
“Absolutely. The competition is that tight... it could be down the last round,” Cullen said.
Next week, South travel to Jubilee Oval for the mouthwatering contest against North, with top spot the prize for the victor.
While Central will be at home at the Memorial Oval for an equally important clash against West, with third spot up for grabs
South: Staker 3, Manoel 2, Hardy, S. O'Brien, Corey, Mackiewicz, Spratt, Higgins
Central: Rhodes 3, McClure 2, Montgomery 2, Jenkin, Beven, Sulicich,
South: Westley, Dolan, Hardy, Mackiewicz, Corey, Staker
Central: Christie, Zanette, Cox, Beven, Schnickel, Rhodes