Bays in a thriller as they look for a double chance
By Nick Blewett

A fortnight ago I lamented some predictable results through the middle of the SANFL season. Now, with three rounds to go, the door is ajar for six teams to fill five spots in the finals race. Sitting pretty atop the ladder, for now, are the Woodville West Torrens Eagles after overcoming a slow start to outmuscle the Roosters in an entertaining clash on Sunday.

They host Glenelg this weekend at Maughan Thiem Kia oval – Glenelg were the only other form team whose weekend went according to plan, accounting for the Bloods by reigning 21 goals on them from half of their 22 men.

It sets up a winnable game for Glenelg, who snuck past Norwood, the two teams trading 4th and 5th spot for some time now; they also have Sturt hot on their heels and South in their sights after Sturt roared back into contention with their 6 goal win over the Panthers.

This game is between two teams relatively assured of a finals berth. Zac Milbank reckons the eagles have one hand on the minor premiership, I reckon they have but a pinky finger. Should Glenelg win this they have the dogs straight after a do-or-die game against the Roosters, and Sturt after a do-or die-game against the Roosters, then Glenelg won’t settle for a double chance – they’ll be looking for the bye.

They will get there if their forward half can fire anywhere near as efficiently as last week. 11 individual goalkickers, six of them in the first quarter alone, combined for the highest output of the season, eclipsing Norwood’s score against the same opponent back in round six. Marlon Motlop was the star with 4 goals and 20+ disposals, along with a half dozen teammates. Marlon’s biggest haul last season was only 3 goals, yet they came in the Grand Final last year. He has not missed a game since round 5, when these two teams last met and he was held goalless, so expect another big game from the Larrakia forward.

Glenelg did not take more than their fair share of possession to share the scoring, these goals coming from 5 fewer clearances and 15 fewer marks than the Bloods, who now languish at the bottom of the ladder with three brutal matchups left.

The Eagles certainly will not allow them as many shots on goal, accounting for the Roosters by 50 touches, nearly 20 inside 50s, holding North Adelaide to 14 scoring shots, and holding them in second place, in a show of force against the predominant form team. Whereas Motlop and the Bays dined out last week, Jack Hayes dug in for the Eagles in producing a 3-goal haul, his one-two punch just before 3QT, and in time on in the 4th gave Woodville West Torrens much needed wiggle room at the top of the ladder.

Hayes only needed the 1 goal last these two teams met, back in round 5, which was a high scoring affair for his teammates and the tall timber across both teams, though the eagles held a cozy lead throughout the match. This tells me that some key Glenelg defenders will need to leave their matchups to take intercept marks, and the mids should consider going ‘chaos ball’ when they move forward. It is a buzzword in the AFL, but as we saw in the Western Bulldogs v West Coast Eagles game, it was an effective tactic against a team similar in name and style of play.

I reckon the bays will get up in a nail biter, and make a late charge to the top once more.

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