SANFL – ROUND ONE, Central District v North Adelaide @ Elizabeth
DOGS OFF THE LEASH
What better start could Central District supporters want in 2021, other than a round one SANFL victory, which it got, with a nine-point win over North Adelaide at Elizabeth.
Not only was it Easter’s Good Friday, it was a great Friday for the Bulldogs, as they played a style of football that was exciting and entertaining to watch.
There were passages of play that had a system focused on forward momentum and to kick goals, rather than a defensive mindset of just stopping the other team from scoring.
And there was still accountability, although the tackle count was lower than expected, probably due to the fact it was a pretty warm day.
There were errors, from both teams, which resulted in goals, but the determination of the Dogs to play committed football as a unit was reminiscent of when new coach Paul Thomas led the club on field.
Central District’s Aiden Grace signaled his intention of being a forward target with the game’s first goal two minutes into the opening quarter, and finished the term with three majors, as the Bulldogs led 6.1 to 4.0 at the first break.
One of Grace’s goals was a beauty, when he was tucked in the scoreboard pocket, with his hook shot going through the middle of the big uprights, just before time on.
But the goal of the game belonged to a major kicked on the cusp of quarter time, when Thomas Graham created some magic out of nothing, as he scooped on a loose ball and contorted his body to snap a goal over his shoulder, under pressure, 30m out and on an angle.
There were so many other first quarter highlights, including Nick Gillard’s contested mark and conversion, and the work around the packs, starting with ruckman Jon Marsh, and with onballers like Kyle Presbury and Harry Grant prominent.
An expected lull occurred through the first half of the second quarter, as the Roosters took their chances and kicked four goals to one, to go 8.2 to 7.2 up.
But Marsh broke the shackles to kick a rover’s goal in the square to level proceedings at the 15 minute mark, followed 90 seconds later by Darcy Pisani’s accurate shot, for the Bulldogs to lead by six points heading into time on.
North added a point then a goal to regain the lead, but Justin Hoskin managed a pair of majors in the dying minutes of the first half – at the 28 and 30 minute marks – to go into the long break 11.2 to 9-3 ahead.
The heat had sapped players of energy, and even after the half time rest, the pace of the game dropped off in the second half – as expected.
Central District could have put the result to bed, as it had seven scoring shots to three in the third term, but with both sides only managing a pair of goals, the Bulldogs lead was only extended to 15-points at lemons, 13-7 to 11-4.
At the start of the final stanza, North made a charge to get back into the game, with a goal and then two misses, to close within seven points.
But after replying with a behind, the Bulldogs sealed the result with two goals in just over 90 seconds, after Hoskin nailed his fourth of the game and Jackson Kelly ignited the crowd with a blazing run from the centre.
Kelly received a handball from Jarrod Schiller in the middle of the ground, then sprinted goalward, bouncing four times until getting just inside the 50m arc, and let fly with a long bomb, which dissected the goals.
The Roosters managed two late majors into time on to reduce the margin, but Central District was a deserving nine-point winner.
And how many contributors did the Bulldogs have? To pick best players was a tough task, with many good players missing out, including the Schiller brothers, Jarrod and Travis, Dylan Morton, Chris Olsson, Brendan Dew, Luke Habel … the list is long.
But for his four-quarter effort and presence seemingly all over the ground, Kyle Presbury gets the nod as BOG. Close behind in a similar role was Harry Grant – one of four exciting recruits.
Darci Pisani looks to have added something extra to his game and is set for a solid season, while Marsh not only contributed with his ruckwork but also with his around the ground play, and Hoskin and Grace offered twin targets up front.
An important ingredient to play finals footy is consistency, which Central District need to show when it fronts up to Alberton this Saturday to play Port Power’s reserves. A win will lay the foundation for an exciting season, while a loss will create unwanted questions.
Goals: Grace, Hoskin 4, East 2, Gillard, Graham, Marsh, D. Pisani, J. Kelly 1.
Best: Presbury, Grant, D. Pisani, Hoskin, Marsh, Grace.
By Robert Laidlaw