League Match Report

League Round 11 Match Report

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FOUR QUARTER EFFORT WINS THE DAY FOR CENTRAL

Has Central District finally cracked the formula to win games in the SANFL? It appears so after a gutsy 13-point victory over Norwood at Elizabeth.

A key forward kicking goals – John Butcher’s strong marking and five goals; A bit of luck – Ben Nason’s goal on the three-quarter time siren and a couple of lucky bounces; and most importantly, an array of four-quarter contributors – consistency at last!

The only period of the game where the mighty Bulldogs looked like they were again going to fall away was the first half of the third term, where Norwood booted four goals to just one by Central, to create a 21-point buffer.

Other than that, the Dogs were either nipping at the heels of their opponents or holding a lead, with a terrific last term ensuring the vital two premiership points, to lift Central off the bottom of the table, while also putting the Redlegs’ finals hopes in jeopardy.

It was a terrific game of footy to watch, as the belief of the home side was infectious.

The first quarter was basically goal for goal, as Butcher led the way with his marking and bagging a pair of majors – a highlight was Jordan O’Brien’s tackle and resultant pass to Connor McLean, to set up the Dogs’ first six-pointer.

With the scores locked at 4.2 apiece at the first break, it was Norwood that first looked like getting off the chain, with three of the first four goals of the second term, to lead by 13 points, 10 minutes in.

But then three consecutive majors in six minutes leading into time on – including another Butcher mark and conversion, and a ‘rovers’ goal by ruckman Jonathan Marsh – put Central in front.

Norwood dominated the closing stages of the first half with four scoring shots but only managed one goal, to lead 8.6 to 8.3 at the long break.

Then a pair of majors to the Redlegs in the first four minutes of the third quarter seemed to open up some cracks, but O’Brien snapped a beauty to pull one back, with another couple of Norwood goals then leaving supporters scratching their heads and wandering if it was a case of ‘here we go again?’.

Butcher grabbed his chance and almost single handily pulled his teammates back into the contest with his fourth and fifth goals, to put the Dogs back in the game. A major by Norwood put the Redlegs 13-points up late in the period.

But Nason filled supporters with hope when his long kick for ‘goal of the game’ went on to the boot around the same time as the siren sounded, to signal lemons. And after a discussion between the field and goal umpires, it counted and the deficit was cut to seven points.

Thankfully the speed of sound travels 343 metres in a second, while the speed of light moves at 186,000 miles in a second – so what is seen can happen at the same time for everyone, while what is heard takes time for different people to hear.

There was a sense of excitement in the atmosphere at the ground, with high tension, as supporters from both sides waited anxiously for the final stanza to begin.

Initially an arm-wrestle looked imminent, with neither side giving an inch, until, at the five minute mark, Chris Olsson ran onto a loose ball and booted a goal to reduce the margin to a single point, which was erased a few minutes later after a rushed behind – the game was all tied up, again.

An excruciating 10-minute period saw opportunities gained and lost by both sides, with neither able to convert a score to take the lead.

Relatively quiet for the first three quarters, Justin Hoskin was playing out of his skin in this final quarter and continually pushed his side forward, with one such foray creating an opportunity for Olsson, who gathered, balked, twisted and straightened up to snap a wonderful goal at the 18 minute mark, and the Dogs were in front.

Olsson then set up another major 90 seconds later, which was converted by Jack Toner, with a couple of behinds ensuring the victory.

For the final term Norwood was held goalless, and scoreless until a point in the final minute of the game.

It was the toughest game of the season to pick best players, with so many four-quarter contributors, although Butcher’s five goal haul was telling, while it was pleasing to see Nason and Olsson play arguable their best games at league level.

Now for a fortnight of away games against two premiership contenders, starting this Saturday with North Adelaide at Prospect, then Glenelg at the Bay.

By Robert Laidlaw