By ZAC MILBANK
Glenelg ended South Adelaide’s dream finals run with a hard-fought 28-point Preliminary Final win at the Adelaide Oval on Friday night.
Despite leading at every change, the Tigers didn’t put the Panthers away until triple Ken Farmer Medallist Liam McBean kicked his first goal of the night 19 minutes into the final term.
Fifth-placed South – fighting to make its first Grand Final since 1979 and win its first flag since 1964 – fought hard to work back into the match with significant surges at the start of the second and fourth terms.
After the Bays failed to put any scoreboard pressure on South in the first term, leading by just nine points at the first change, South had the first eight inside 50 entries of the second stanza.
It resulted in a 10-point lead on the back of Nic Schwarz’s goal in the 15th minute, two minutes after star in the making Jason Horne-Francis gave his side the lead with a snap goal.
Critical third term goals to Tigers Lachie Hosie (3rd minute) and Marlon Motlop (23rd minute) swung the game back in Glenelg’s favour.
South then kicked the first four behinds of the fourth term before Motlop ensured his career would extend an extra week with a goal from close range 10 minutes into the last term.
Horne-Francis, who finished with 24 disposals and 3.3, loomed as the only significant danger to Glenelg, his two posters in the final term proving influential in the result.
Glenelg coach Brett Hand will be pleased his side found a way to win without any significant performances from his midfielders, with Dylan Landt (33 disposals) and Andrew Bradley (25) leading the way on the stats sheet.
Luke Reynolds kicked two vital goals in the second stanza while Sam Durdin was exceptional in defence with co-captain Max Proud.
Hard-running Hayden Sampson (28 disposals) and Nic Schwarz (27 disposals, eight clearances and a goal) supported Horne-Francis strongly, in what was the last game for Panthers champion Joel Cross.
Cross was fittingly chaired off after his 208th and final SANFL League game, after 18 disposals and three marks.