No complacency or mercy will be shown by Eagles
By Dan Crouch

Norwood will host The Eagles on Friday night as they look to bounce back from last weekend’s thrashing at the hands of North Adelaide. This weekend will be the end of Norwood’s nightmarish month of scheduling which had them play against the current top four all in consecutive weeks. After starting their tough month well with a four-point win over South they failed to come close to Glenelg or North Adelaide, two teams who broke their hearts in rounds one and two with victories by less than a goal. 

The Eagles still haven’t lost a game since round one and they have now beaten every team in the league at least once during this winning streak, but they are still playing to keep top spot on the ladder and aren’t expected to show any complacency as North Adelaide are only behind them on percentage. North play the Eagles next week in what is set to be a thriller, and the Eagles will be using this game to try and build momentum for that blockbuster. 

A loss this weekend could put Norwood as much as two wins and a decent amount of percentage outside the top four with only four games remaining; Norwood simply must win to keep their season alive. With an undefeated 3-0 record against teams below them on the ladder, and a 1-5 record against the teams above them before this weekend’s game, Norwood’s finals credentials are almost non-existent. However, a win covers a multitude of sins, and The Redlegs can gain some motivation and belief for the final month before finals if they can pull off the upset this weekend.

The Eagles’ last four wins have come against Centrals, West Adelaide, South Adelaide and Sturt, who just so happen to be the four clubs which Norwood have scored wins against this season. With that in mind, this will likely prove to be The Eagles’ toughest game in over a month.

The SANFL’s leading goalkicker – James Rowe – will be looking to kick a bag and separate himself further from the pack, and he will be one of the most important men on the ground. He has kicked eleven goals in the past three matches and, even though The Eagles have many avenues to score and are not reliant on just Rowe – Jake Von Bertouch is the league’s fourth leading goal kicker and four other Eagles are averaging at least one goal per game – Norwood must shut him down to give themselves the best shot at winning. 

With a plethora of fantastic attacking players and goal kickers The Eagles have scored more points than any other team in the league this year, but their sensational defence and pressure is the thing that separates them from the pack. They have allowed 105 points fewer than the next best defensive team, and 242 points fewer than The Redlegs. Two players loom large for The Redlegs if they are to kick a winning score on the best defensive team in the competition: Richard Douglas and Mitch Grigg. The former Adelaide Crows pair both rank first and second for disposals at Norwood, second and fifth for goals, first and second for inside 50s, and both rank in the top five for clearances and tackles too. In short, these two superstars need to carry the Redlegs in an even more prolific way than they have been doing all season long. 

Even with their season on the line, it is hard to tip The Redlegs to win this one based on current form. It would be hard to tip anyone against The Eagles the way they are travelling, they are rightfully premiership favourite and they should get another win this weekend. 

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