By ZAC MILBANK
South Australia maintained its unbeaten run through the NAB AFLW U18 National Championships with a gutsy three-point win against Victoria Metro in Werribee on Friday.
Challenging their arch-rivals and the only other undefeated team throughout the tournament, the Croweaters showed tremendous heart by cracking the game open in the third term before being forced to defend grimly late in the fourth.
With Woodville-West Torrens’ Shineah Goody and North Adelaide’s Hannah Ewings starring, the visitors produced a wonderful team performance to ensure they would finish with an average winning margin of 59 points across their three matches.
Leading by just a goal at half-time, it didn’t take long for Goody to make her presence felt when she earned a free kick for a push in the back four minutes after the main break.
The talented Eagle converted with a snapshot before earning another free kick, this time for causing her opponent to throw the ball due to an outstanding tackle.
With her second major, Goody calmly nailed her set shot from a tough angle from 20m to open up a 17-point lead 13 minutes into the third quarter.
SA began to overwhelm its opponents with outstanding pressure in its forward 50m arc, resulting in an opportunistic soccer off the ground from Ella Little, who gave the Croweaters a handy three-goal buffer at the final change.
Goals from two 50m penalties in the final term assisted Victoria Metro in its unlikely comeback, only to be continually thwarted by SA’s desperate defending in its back half.
And there was no better example than North Adelaide’s Elaine Grigg applying a crunching tackle at half-back in the final 30 seconds.
While it didn’t earn a deserved free kick, it ensured SA coach Tim Weatherald would be immensely proud of his charges after remaining in front at the final siren.
Goody finished with a game-high 27 disposals, six clearances and seven tackles to go with her two game-breaking goals in a stunning allround performance which ensured she would be SA’s MVP of the Championships.
Ewings tallied 23 disposals, five clearances and six tackles to go with her opening goal of the game while Norwood’s Sachi Syme kept up her consistent ball-winning with 19 possessions.
Glenelg pair Sarah Goodwin and Ella Boag had 18 possessions each, the latter also adding a classy goal on the run during the second term from 25m out.
Tiger Piper Window and Redleg Lana Schwerdt were excellent defensively, evidenced by them combining for 20 tackles.
SA comfortably won its first two NAB AFLW National Championship games, defeating Western Australia by 84 points at Thebarton Oval and Victoria Country by 92 points at Adelaide Oval.
The 2022 NAB AFLW National Championships concludes on April 30 when Queensland hosts the Allies at Metricon Stadium.
The Player of the Championships medal will be awarded to the competition’s most outstanding performer following the final game, along with the announcement of the U18 Girls All-Australian team.
SA 1.2 2.2 5.2 5.3 (33)
Vic M 1.0 1.2 2.3 4.6 (30)
BEST – SA: Shineah Goody, Sarah Goodwin, Piper Window, Keeley Kustermann, Kiera Mueller, India Rasheed
GOALS – SA: Shineah Goody 2, Hannah Ewings, Ella Boag, Ella Little
At Avalon Airport Oval, Werribee