Norwood snapped a three-game losing streak with a thrilling five-point win over Central District at Coopers Stadium on Sunday.
The Redlegs looked the better team for most of the afternoon, and led by a match-high 17 points late in the last quarter before the Bulldogs gave the home team a fright with two last minute goals.
Norwood hung on to a 9.10-64 to 9.5-59 victory, but had to overcome injuries to Jackson Callow (ankle) and Alec Wright (shoulder), and a wayward start, booting 1.6 in the first term.
Connor McLean kicked four goals, and Nik Rokahr had 31 disposals, 12 tackles and nine clearances in a game where Norwood laid 93 tackles to Centrals 58 and won the inside 50m count 49-32.
Harry Boyd won 46 hitouts, nine clearances and 16 disposals in a best on ground performance.
On return from an ankle injury that’s kept him out most of the season Callow limped off the field in the third quarter, but returned to play an important role.
Callow finished with three behinds from seven disposals and three marks (two contested), but proved to be a focal point in Norwood’s forward line.
“When you have got a big forward you can confidently kick the ball to it makes a difference to every team,” Norwood coach Jade Rawlings said post game.
“The boys love playing with him even though he’s only been able to play two games this year.
“His ankle injury (in the third quarter) spooked him a bit, but to get back on to give us a rotation (as we lost Wright with a shoulder) was something I really admired. His willingness to keep competing was well regarded by the boys.”
Rawlings was proud that his side had not lost spirit or inspiration in the midst of a disappointing season.
“Given our year (4-11 from 15 rounds), I have been at clubs where it does come off the rails but this group keeps giving,” he said.
“We have been in every game since Round 4 this year – it’s been five losses by under two goals which is the difference between being in the top five or not.
“It’s going to bite us at the back end, but I have admired the leadership, the opportunities we have given to guys like Liam Robinson, Wright and Mitch Carroll, and the core group to keep competing.”
Norwood dominated the first term for a costly return of 1.6-12 to Central’s 3.0-18, despite leading inside 50m numbers 13-6.
While Norwood was inaccurate in the early stages, its defense again stood up, keeping Centrals to five goals for the first three quarters, and goalless in the second term.
The Redlegs started brightly, with Callow charging out from full forward to take a mark on the lead in the opening minute.
His first set shot missed, and it was the Bulldogs who were able to find the first goal of the contest through Justin Hoskin.
Norwood was able to transition the ball well and Ben Jarvis took a strong contested mark at half forward, finding McLean 15m out for the Redlegs first goal of the afternoon.
A welcome addition Callow was providing a handful in Norwood’s forward 50m, and was at times double teamed, which allowed other Redlegs forwards to create shots on goal.
The Redlegs had 1.3 to 1.0 on the scoreboard after 12 minutes.
Norwood was good on transition and turnover from half back and Jacob Kennerley went streaming through the middle of the ground to find McLean for another mark inside 50m, but McLean put through the Redlges fourth behind of the first term.
Against the flow, Centrals got the next goal through Mani Liddy at the 17-minute mark of the first term to take a 2.0-12 to 1.4-10 advantage.
Frustratingly, Norwood let through the next goal when Nick Lange marked a wobbly set shot 2m out from goal.
From the centre clearance the Redlegs showed their class our of the midfield, with Matt Panos lacing out Callow on the lead once again, but it was again a minor score.
Baynen Lowe sent another shot towards goal but Robinson was able to take a clever contested mark, but for another behind.
The quarter time score was 1.6-12 to 3.0-18. Rokahr had eight disposals, and Boyd six in the first term.
Norwood wasn’t able to convert in the first term, but had no trouble knocking the first goal through of the second quarter. Jarvis snapped the first major through in the opening 90 seconds of the quarter to level the scores at 2.6-18 to 3.0-18.
The Redlegs forward line looked dangerous and Callow again made a strong contest at half forward and McLean nearly reeled in a strong mark 15m out, but neither could complete their work to create another set shot.
The ball was trapped in Norwood’s forward 50m (8-1 inside 50m count at the eight-minute mark) and Kennerley capitalised on a free kick to boot his side’s third goal, 3.6-24 to 3.0-18.
It was a tough scrap to close out the first half as the sun disappeared and light rain started to fall.
Norwood managed to keep Centrals goalless in the second term and boot two of its own goals, to lead 3.7-25 to 3.2-20 at the main break.
Rokahr had 17 disposals, five tackles and four clearances to half time, with the Redlegs leading the tackle count 40-30 and inside 50m entries 25-14. Centrals led clearances 26-16.
Matthew Nunn came streaming out of the midfield to serge Norwood forward to start the second half, but it was the Bulldogs who transitioned down the other end for the first goal of the third term. The goal kicker was captain Jarrod Schiller who gave the Bulldogs a one point lead.
Norwood responded instantly with McLean’s second goal of the afternoon, a set shot from the paint of 50m – 4.7-31 to 4.2-26.
McLean had back to back goals when he kicked his third for the match when he juggled a long inside 50m and nailed the goal to extend Norwood’s lead to 10 points.
Callow limped off with an ankle injury mid-way through the third term, and Wright injured his shoulder minutes later when slung to the ground near the interchange bench.
The Redlegs were able to goal from a Central District turnover at half back, finishing with a classy snap from Nunn.
Nunn’s goal made it a 16-point Norwood lead, 6.7-43 to 4.3-27.
Centrals were able to gain repeated forward entries and kicked a goal late in the third term to bring it back to a nine-point margin.
Callow (still impacted by his injury) returned to the field late in the third term to play deep forward, and had a shot after the siren. He missed and made it a 10-point three-quarter time lead, 6.8-44 to 5.4-34.
Like the first and third quarters, the Bulldogs kicked the first goal of the final term and made it a three-point game.
Norwood created a turnover on the wing and Rokahr found McLean on the paint of 50m, taking a strong mark on the lead. McLean made the most of a double 25m penalty and nailed the goal from the goalline to make it nine points.
The Bulldogs refused to go away, and capitalised on a frustrating free kick 35m out, Aiden Grace kicked the goal at the 11-minute mark to make it three points once again.
As he tends to do Panos proved to be the hero, nailing a 50m set shot from the Coopers Hill pocket to make it nine points and Goy Lok ran into an open goal to send Norwood 15 points in front.
Lok had another big say with a huge run down effort late in the game.
Centrals made the Norwood faithful incredibly nervous with late goals to Grace and Isaiah Dudley to make it five points with one minute to play.
Norwood clung on to its fourth victory of the season ahead of the Bye next weekend, before facing South Adelaide at Coopers Stadium on August 12.
Norwood 1.6, 3.7, 6.8, 9.10 – 64
Central District 3.0, 3.2, 5.4, 9.5 – 59
Goals: McLean 4, Jarvis, Kennerley, Lok, Nunn, Panos
Best: Boyd, Panos, Rokahr, Donnelly, McLean
Central District proved too strong for Norwood in a see-sawing Reserves game on Sunday, claiming a 36-point win at Coopers Stadium.
The Redlegs kicked the first goal of the afternoon when Finn Heard nailed a 20m set shot two minutes into the contest, before Centrals went on to kick the next six goals to assert their dominance.
Norwood steadied with the next two goals and trailed by 22 points at half time, 7.3-45 to 3.5-23.
Every time Norwood got on a roll the Bulldogs were able to bite back with consecutive goals and managed to get the margin back out to 37 points mid-way through the third term.
U18 Will Rowlands played a big hand in Norwood’s next fight back attempt kicking two of Norwood’s four consecutive goals to make it an interesting 12 points at the 11-minute mark of the final quarter.
However, again Centrals steadied with the final four goals of the game to claim the 13.8-86 to 7.8-50 victory.
F. Heard finished with three goals from his 14 disposals, which also included five marks and five hitouts.
Rowlands kicked two goals from 10 disposals.
Luke Bogle was the leading ball winner for Norwood with 22 disposals and 11 clearances, while young ruckman Alex van Wyk had 19 disposals, 26 hitouts, seven clearances and six marks.
The Bulldogs sit second on the ladder, and Norwood sixth with three matches to come (one win behind the fifth placed Woodville-West Torrens).
Following this weekend’s Bye Norwood play South Adelaide, West Adelaide and Central District in the run home.
Norwood 1.1, 3.5, 4.6, 7.8 – 50
Central District 3.3, 7.3, 9.7, 13.8 – 86
Best: van Wyk, Bogle, Nicholls, Ball, Cresswell
Goals: F. Heard 3, Rowlands 2, Allen, Weightman