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SANFL season over

Max Phillips  September 18, 2016 6:08 PM

Wayne Milera Junior kicked three goals in Sunday's SANFL Preliminary Final at Adelaide Oval

Wayne Milera Junior kicked three goals in Sunday's SANFL Preliminary Final at Adelaide Oval

Adelaide’s SANFL premiership pursuit has ended at the hands of Sturt in Sunday’s Preliminary Final at Adelaide Oval.

After storming through their first two SANFL finals against Central District and South Adelaide, the Crows fell one win short of a maiden Grand Final berth, succumbing to Sturt by 35 points in the Preliminary Final.

It signalled the official end to Adelaide’s 2016 campaign at both AFL and SANFL level following Saturday night’s loss to the Sydney Swans at the SCG.

The match also marked the end to Nathan van Berlo’s storied Crows career. Players from both sides formed a guard of honour after the match as the respected veteran walked off Adelaide Oval for the last time as a player.

The SANFL Crows never gave up against the highly-rated Double Blues despite trailing by as much as 41 points late in the third term.

A hat-trick of goals to Wayne Milera Junior, Hugh Greenwood and Luke Lowden following a huge pack mark brought Adelaide to within 16 points midway through the final term, putting a late boilover within reach.

But the margin proved too much to overcome. Sturt added the final three goals of the game to seal the result and book its place against Woodville-West Torrens in the SANFL Grand Final next Sunday afternoon.

SANFL Stats: Preliminary Final

Riley Knight continued his strong finish to the season, finishing with 25 possessions and nine marks and another hard-running display.

Jonathon Beech backed up his career-best seven-goal display in last week’s Semi-Final with 18 possessions and nine marks in a connecting role further up the ground.

Milera and Greenwood both booted three goals each, while stand-in captain Andy Otten was again gallant in defence alongside van Berlo and rebounding backman Curtly Hampton.

As expected, the Double Blues were ferocious at the contest thanks to their hardened midfield, but also dominated the aerial battle all afternoon, winning the inside 50m count 37-59 and total marks tally 99-75. The free kick count was also 18-34 in Sturt’s favour.

But Sturt also had nine more scoring shots and ultimately was a deserved victor on Sunday afternoon.

Crows SANFL coach Heath Younie, who flew back from Sydney after working on Saturday night at the SCG, said there was a similar feel to Sunday's SANFL Preliminary Final.

"They defended the game really well," Younie said of Sturt.

"It's interesting. You play Sydney last night and then you play Sturt today who have a ‘Sydney’ feel to them.

"It was really difficult for us transitioning out of the back half. I thought they got field position on us in that second quarter. We weren’t able to get our game going, but that’s full credit to Sturt."

The Crows controlled the contest early but couldn’t maximise their reward on the scoreboard. Opportunities to Beech, Knight and Harrison Wigg went begging before Sturt hit back to take a seven-point lead a quarter-time.

A deft tap from Luke Lowden put Milera into space as the young gun slotted his second with the classy checkside to rein in the margin to just two points.

But Sturt answered immediately. Goalsneak Ben Hansen booted three of Sturt’s next four goals as the Double Blues looked like running away with the result.

Crucial goals to left-footers Greenwood and Lowden kept the Crows in touch, before Sturt settled with a major after the half-time siren to retain a 25-point advantage.

The deficit blew out to 41 points in the third quarter but yet again the Crows held on, slotting three of the last four goals of the term to stay within 30 points.

Milera and Greenwood both booted their third goals of the game to give the Crows a sniff, before a clutch mark helped Lowden cut the deficit to just 16 points midway through the final term.

It was too little too late however, as Sturt steadied to seal its spot in next week’s decider.

Already without injured midfielder Cam Ellis-Yolmen, Adelaide also lost Paul Seedsman and Ricky Henderson leading into the match due to SANFL finals qualification rules.


ADELAIDE   1.4   4.4     7.7      10.8 (68)
STURT         2.5   7.11   11.12   15.13 (103)

Milera 3, Greenwood 3, Lowden 2, Hunter, Menzel
Sturt: Hansen 4, Hone 4, Beard 2, Harms, M. Evans, Crocker, Lienert, Osborn

Beech, Knight, Greenwood, Grigg, Menzel, Milera, Otten
Sturt: Kirkwood, Lienert, Hansen, Hone, Riley, F. Evans, Beard, Stephens

Adelaide: Nil
Sturt: Nil