Preliminary Final U18 Match Report
West Adelaide 11.9 (75) def. by South Adelaide 16.4 (100)
After showing plenty of promise the week before against the Eagles, our group ventured to Adelaide Oval for the Preliminary Final against an in-form South Adelaide side who had won their previous 8 matches. The boys were excited for the occasion and determined to get back to playing our best football. Tom Pearce and Eduard Van den Berg were called in to the side after being emergencies the previous week.
Riley Thilthorpe got us of to the best possible start with a goal in the first minute courtesy of a left-foot snap on the run. From there the remainder of the first-quarter was an arm-wrestle. Both sides had chances in an open game, with South leading by 8 points at the first change.
Our second quarter was one of the most disappointing for the season. It was one of the only times we have conceded a large score in a quarter with South kicking 7 goals to our 2. We were well beaten through the middle of the ground and were unable to halt South’s momentum as they repeatedly sent the ball forward with speed.
At half-time Harvey Bock was moved on to a wing and our talls were re-aligned with ensured more marking power up forward. The game became more competitive but South still found the goals when we couldn’t. Two goals in the last 80 seconds of the quarter reduced the deficit to 34 points at the last change. It was going to be a tough ask but our ball movement, particularly from defence had been better and we knew we had to take the game on and take risks to give ourselves a chance.
The rain came in the last quarter which made play scrappy but it also simplified things in a way, as our midfield battled hard to surge the ball forward at all costs. We were able to do this effectively and kicked three goals in the first 10-minutes to make it just 16 points the difference with 15 minutes to go. We needed the next goal – but despite our best efforts South ultimately put the result beyond doubt with 10 minutes to go.
Noah Hannagan was exciting with 5 goals, Riley Thilthorpe battled hard all day with 36 hitouts and 2 goals, Will Day was impressive with his composure and ball use off half-back and Harvey Bock impacted the game with his move to the wing. Our midfield were better in the second half after a slow start and Austin Forbes led the defensive pressure with 9 tackles for the match.
Obviously there is a feeling of disappointment that we were unable to secure a Grand Final berth. I am extremely proud of the way our group bounced back from a poor second quarter and fought the game out. It would have been easy for our boys to concede but they showed great spirit and gave themselves a real chance in the last quarter. All the best to South Adelaide and the Eagles who have been impressive all year – it should be a close Grand Final this week.
The group should be proud of their year on a whole and there has been a significant change in the mindset and culture amongst the group over the past 24 months. From here our list will disperse in different directions – some will continue to senior football, others will remain in the under-18 group for 2020 and some will return to local football. Regardless of what their next step is, each player needs to be congratulated on the contribution to our football club they have made this year. They are fantastic young men and have been a pleasure to coach.
Best: Riley Thilthorpe, Noah Hannagan, Will Day, Harvey Bock, Mac Nield, Joel Groom
Goals: Noah Hannagan (5), Riley Thilthorpe (2), Jason Westley, Mac Nield, Jye Sinderberry, Austin Forbes (1)
Talent & Development Manager / U18 Coach