Match Report

Eagles soar in top of the table clash

Henry Nelligan had a good day for Norwood, with 20 disposals, two goals and 17 tackles. Photo: Alex Pedlar NFC

Norwood suffered its first loss of the 2024 SANFL season, with an impressive Woodville-West Torrens side running away with a 39-point victory at Coopers Stadium on Sunday.

It was a top of the table First Nations Round clash at The Parade, as the Redlegs entered the contest 7-0 and the Eagles 5-2, with the visitors looking to rebound from an inconsistent last month, and the home side hoping to build on its best performance of the season in Round 7.

Woodville-West Torrens came to play from the outset, and had an answer for everything Norwood threw at them in the comprehensive 15.9-99 to 8.12-60 win.

It wasn’t just Norwood’s first loss of the season, but also the biggest score its usually resolute defense allowed in 2024, with the previous highest score against being just 59 points (Round 5 V North Adelaide).

Norwood was without key midfielders Mitch O’Neill and Billy Cootee for the Round 8 clash, with Ben Simpson and Jack Saunders coming back into the line up.

Saunders was playing his first SANFL match since Round 4 last year, following a horror run with injury. Including a serious neck injury last year, followed by an ankle injury that’s plagued his 2024 season.

Saunders was lively in his return, finishing with 14 disposals and a third quarter goal.

Norwood captain Jacob Kennerley led the disposal count for his side with 23 touches, six tackles and a team-lifting “captain’s goal” to start the third term. Other major ball winners were Matt Ling with 22, Harry Boyd with 21, Declan Hamilton 21 and Baynen Lowe 21.

Henry Nelligan was a shining light, spending more time in the midfield in the absence of O’Neill and Cootee, and finished with 20 disposals, two goals, 17 tackles and five clearances.

The Eagles signaled their intent from the first bounce. Patrick Weckert nailed a long set shot in the opening minute, and before Norwood knew it the Eagles were three goals in front within the first eight minutes of the game.

Matt Goldsworthy dribbled through the Eagles second and Connor Ballenden was hit on a strong lead, before converting his side’s third toward the Roger Woodcock End.

It was five inside 50m entries to one when Cooper Murley cut off another threatening foray forward, which allowed Norwood the chance to finally slow the ball down. The Redlegs transitioned it nicely down the wing, ending in a Nelligan set shot.

Nelligan went back and nailed a much needed goal at the 10-minute mark.

The Eagles kicked the next goal through Max Beattie, and had a chance to go further ahead but missed a 35m set shot.

From the kick-out, Norwood found Finn Heard on the wing, he turned and found Izaak Twelftree inside 50m, who spotted up Connor McLean in the goalsquare. F. Heard had two massive efforts on the wing in the first term, taking two strong contested marks at crucial times.

McLean’s goal reduced the margin to 12 points, and Nelligan booted his second goal a minute later to get it back to six points just before quarter time.

The Eagles went into the first break 4.2-26 to 3.2-20, and also led the inside 50m count +3, and were +9 in tackles. Norwood led disposal +22.

Nelligan had seven disposals and two goals in the first quarter.

The Eagles started the second quarter like the first and came streaming out the midfield. Eagles recruit Josh Morris (who played 15 AFL games with Hawthorn) kicked long to Ballenden, who marked and kicked his second of the game.

Eagles midfielder James Rowe was having a big influence, and worked his defender under the ball before finding a one-on-one contest inside 50m. Will Pearce drew a high free-kick 20m out, and went back to slot the Eagles sixth.

Norwood had the better of the clearance numbers, but multiple forward transitions were marked by loose Eagles defenders.

The Redlegs needed to make the most of their chances in the second term, but couldn’t, and at the 11-minute mark the Eagles had 2.0 to Norwood’s 0.3 for the term.

The scoreboard read 6.2-38 to 3.5-23.

Former Brisbane Lion Ballenden was having a huge impact, winning a free kick at the 50m ark, and going back to kick his third for the first half to stretch the margin out to 20 points for the first time.

Pierce Seymour won two big one on one contests across the middle and half back late in the quarter, driving Norwood back into attack. But the Redlegs couldn’t make the most of it one the scoreboard.

In his return match, Saunders looked dangerous in the first half, and created another score involvement, marking on the wing and then dancing around the player on the mark to find Hamilton inside 50m.

Hamilton went back and slotted the goal, Norwood’s first for the second term. It was reward for effort for the Redlegs, who had got the game back on their terms.

Unfortunately, it didn’t last long as the Eagles caused a turnover at half back and transitioned forward, to end in a Goldsworthy snap goal in front of Coopers Hill just before the half time break.

The Eagles led by 20 points at half time, 8.3-51 to 4.7-31.

Norwood still led the disposal tally +38 in the first half, inside 50m entries +9, and marks +7, and the Eagles only led clearance +1.

Scoring shots were even at 11 apiece, but the Eagles were far more accurate, with Norwood kicking 1.5 to Woodville-West Torrens’ 4.1 in the second quarter.

Nelligan was a shining light in the first half with 14 disposals and two goals, while Ling had 13 disposals.

Both sides missed set shots to start the second half. The Eagles turned over their kick out, and Kennerley made them pay, booting a much needed set shot from 45m out to reduce the margin to 14 points.

Once again, the Eagles returned serve with a goal of their own two minutes later through Luke McKay.

They were not giving the unbeaten, in-form Norwood an inch, and again extended their lead when Beattie nailed a set shot.

Norwood kept hanging around and McLean kicked a second goal from close range to ensure his side remained in touch.

In a team-lifter, Saunders snapped a goal on the left and his teammates celebrated the significant milestone in his long overdue return.

It just seemed that it wasn’t Norwood’s day, as Goldsworthy and Adam D’Aloia kicked back to back goals to return the margin out past four goals. Every time Norwood mounted a fightback, the visitors were able to respond.

At three quarter time the Eagles led 12.5-77 to 7.9-51, after a four goals to three term in favour of the visitors.

Down by 26 points at the final break, Norwood needed everything to go right.

In Norwood’s best passage of the game, the Redlegs forced a turnover in the back half and worked it the length of the field, to Jackson Callow in the goalsquare who kicked his first goal of the afternoon.

Not for the first time, the Eagles responded immediately with a Beattie goal that would make the comeback difficult.

Rowe and D’Aloia – who had huge games – both kicked sealing goals late in the piece to get the margin out to a match-high 39 points.

The Redlegs will need to bounce back quickly, taking on Sturt at Unley Oval in a huge Round 9 King’s Birthday Monday clash.


Norwood 3.2, 4.7, 7.9, 8.12 – 60

WWT 4.2, 8.3, 12.5, 15.9 – 99

Goals: Nelligan 2, McLean 2, Callow, Hamilton, Kennerley, Saunders

Best: Hamilton, Nelligan, Twelftree, Seymour, Donnelly

Norwood’s Reserves side survived a second half fight back from Woodville-West Torrens on Sunday morning to run out 21-point winners and keep its unbeaten run alive.

The Redlegs started like a house on fire on Sunday, booting eight of the first nine goals of the game to get out to a match-high 45-point lead just before half time.

The Eagles steadied, and put the heat back on Norwood by kicking six unanswered goals to get the game back to a nerve-wracking 12 points late in the third term.

Norwood tall forward Damon Pitt kicked an important goal with the last kick of the third quarter to make it a 19-point three quarter time margin.

Woodville-West Torrens refused to lie down and kicked the first major of the final quarter.

Redlegs small forward Lachie Bates continued his good run of form since coming into the side in Round 3, and snapped a vital goal around the corner to stretch the game back out to 20 points.

Bates has kicked a goal in every match across his six outings in 2024, and has nine to his name in total.

Eagle Jack Wheare kicked his third goal to keep it interesting, before Jayden Gale shut the door with a 35m set shot to ice the game.

Alec Wright finished with 22 disposals, 10 tackles and six clearances, while Gale, Isaac Saywell and Dom white each had 21 disposals.

Liam Robinson booted four goals, taking his season total to 25 to lead the Reserves League goal kicking.


Norwood 3.1, 8.5, 9.7, 11.9 – 75

WWT 1.0, 2.0, 7.0, 9.0 – 54

Goals: Robinson 4, Lok 2, Bates, Binder, Bogle, Gale, Pitt

Best: Wright, Krollig, Gale, Saywell, Binder