Norwood’s SANFLW season has come to an end in the Preliminary Final in Elizabeth on Sunday afternoon with Central District claiming a strong 40-point win to progress through to next Sunday’s Grand Final.
Redlegs Captain Alison Ferrall was chaired off the ground after the final siren in what was her last match, bringing to an end a 57-game SANFLW career.
She announced to the group prior to the finals campaign that the 2023 season would be her last.
The highly respected key defender went forward late in the game and booted just the eighth goal of her career with her final kick in SANFLW football.
Ferrall’s 20m set shot goal came after the final siren with every Norwood player quickly gathering around her, as Redlegs fans cheered on the sidelines as if they had won the game, epitomising her connection with Norwood players, coaches and supporters.
Chaired off alongside Ferrall was Tesharna Maher who played her 50th SANFLW match.
While there was plenty to celebrate off the field for Norwood, on the field it was the Bulldogs that put together a stunning display of finals football, claiming a 9.8-62 to 3.4-22 win.
The Bulldogs were costly in front of goal early in the match but dominated most of the game, leading by 10 points at quarter time, 22 at half time and 40 at three quarter time.
Centrals will face minor premiers South Adelaide in next Sunday’s SANFLW Grand Final.
In a fantastic first season with Norwood (crossing over from South in the off season) Tahlita Buethke had 21 disposals against the Bulldogs, while Lana Schwerdt continued her consistent year with 20 disposals, five clearances and four tackles.
Norwood’s goal kickers were Ferrall, Alana Lishmund and Rosette Zerella.
Centrals kicked with a strong breeze in the first term, but it was Norwood that did the early attacking as Maher had five early disposals and drove the Redlegs forward out of the centre.
From that point forward Centrals controlled the game, constantly threatening the goalface and putting Norwood’s defence under pressure.
After managing just two behinds in the first half of the quarter the Bulldogs eventually got the first goal on the board when Katelyn Rosenzweig took a strong contested mark in a packed goalsquare.
At the 12-minute mark Centrals led 1.2-8 to no score, with the Bulldogs dominating time in forward half.
From the centre clearance the Bulldogs drove the ball forward again and Rosenzweig took another mark, this time belting the ball into the goalpost to make it a nine-point lead.
The Redlegs were under serious pressure whenever they picked up the ball and turned it over several times across half back.
Centrals had another set shot at goal but Jasmine Evans missed, and Norwood could consider itself lucky that the Bulldogs were only 10 points in front with a 10-3 inside 50m tally after 17 minutes of game time.
Bulldog Charlotte Riggs took one of the marks of the year and put the ball back inside 50m where Redlegs defender Emily Bartsch won another strong one on one contest, which allowed Norwood to go into quarter time with no further scores against.
The score was 1.4-10 to no score at the first break with an inside 50m count of 13-3.
Midfielder Morgan Johnson had seven disposals in the first term, while Buethke and Maher each had six to quarter time.
Norwood kicked with the breeze in the second quarter and started the stronger team, finding repeat inside 50m entries.
The Redlegs managed just one behind in their attacking efforts but looked like they had settled into the game, moving the ball nicely and precisely by foot.
Norwood survived another couple of attacking threats from Centrals who again couldn’t make the most of their inside 50m dominance, with a 1.5-11 to 0.1-1 lead at the mid-way point of the second quarter.
It was the Bulldogs that got the next goal through Rosenzweig who was causing a problem for Norwood defenders and the margin was out to a challenging 16 points.
The Redlegs had to respond on the scoreboard before half time and they did when Lishmund dribbled through her side’s first goal of the afternoon.
The Bulldogs responded instantly with two quick goals before half time (both from Chantel Reynolds), and Centrals went into the main break 22 points in front, 4.5-29 to 1.1-7.
R. Zerella gave Norwood some life with the first goal of the second half, before Evans kicked back to back goals for Centrals to make it a 28-point margin.
The Bulldogs put the game to bed in the third term with two further goals to make it a 40-point deficit at the final break, 8.6-54 to 2.2-14.
The game was done but both sides added one more goal to their tallies in the final term, including Ferrall’s last second goal which proved to be Norwood’s highlight for the afternoon.
Well done to all involved in Norwood’s SANFLW team in 2023, which had to overcome a slow start at 0-3 after three rounds.
It was an outstanding effort to get their season back on track to finish third on the ladder with a 7-5 win-loss record, defeating Sturt in the Elimination Semi Final last Sunday to set up the Preliminary Final matchup with the Bulldogs.
Norwood 0.0, 1.1, 2.2, 3.4 – 22
Central District 1.4, 4.5, 8.6, 8.6, 9.8 – 62
Goals: Lishmund, R. Zerella, Ferrall