Roosters to take top spot off the Eagles
By Nick Blewett

Round 11’s top of the table clash just got a whole lot more interesting after the weekends games. One of these two teams will suddenly be slipping down the ladder if they come off second best in Sunday’s game at Maughan Thiem Kia Oval.

It is the eagles who need to do the most soul searching after a humbling loss to the Redlegs on Friday night. After getting the early jump on Norwood with the first three goals, it took three more quarters to kick three more goals, by which time the contest was well and truly over, much to the delight of the raucous Redlegs crowd. Richard Douglas provided a razor-sharp intercept and goal from on the run late in the first, then Norwood thumped their way to the lead in a seven-goal 2nd quarter. Tommy Pinyon and Matt Panos both whacked 2 goals back to back, Anthony Wilson making it a triple double in the last quarter to ensure the Eagles stayed grounded since quarter time, even held goalless in the premiership quarter.

North Adelaide have less ground to regain, though the score worm will tell you they were chasing the Tigers from start to finish on Sunday. Glenelg’s advantage grew slightly at every break, though you felt the Roosters were still in the game if they could stop the Tigers from pinballing the ball back into attack. I mentioned Darcy Bailey is finding the footy on his own when it counts; this week he got the bays going with a devilish goal from Liam McBean’s quick hands in the goal square; arriving not late but just in time, it also marks the first time he’s kicked goals in successive weeks since the Semi Final last year. Four unanswered goals in the Fourth brought the Roosters back to life, but the Tigers locked the footy down for 10 minutes to kill the contest.

Lewis Hender was the only multiple goalkicker for the Roosters, and the last time he did that was against, you guessed it, the Eagles. It would be a difficult meeting at Woodville to work out how they were undone so dramatically by the Redlegs just now, for their first loss since Round 1. However, losing the possession count by 100, the kicks by 80, the marks by 50 and the clearances by 13 was telling. When these two teams last met, the result was statistically inseparable, save for some poor goalkicking by the Roosters that hurt them in a seesawing game. The eventual 15-point win to the Eagles was their biggest margin of the game. The Roosters have stopped since allowing their opponents to run out the game, which tells me North Adelaide will be ripe and ready for the contest this week. They will need another in their forward line to stand up and bag a couple against the most frugal defense in the league.

That said, I expect this to be a free-flowing game like last time – this time, North regain Craig in the ruck, whereas Harvey went at it alone in Round 4 against Redden, who was notably his team’s only multiple goalkicker last week. However, both coaches would note that their teams were out-tackled last week: there is only so much free flowing footy from top teams a defense can stand up to.

Can the Eagles bounce back from their lowest score of the season? Their position atop the ladder is on the line. Regardless, it seems quite likely the top 4 will get pretty cozy after this round. I am looking forward to it.

To continued reading please click here to download.