Norwood was unable to hold on to a one-point lead in the dying moments against West Adelaide, with the game ending in a draw at Hisense Stadium on Saturday.
Despite a superior first half that saw the Redlegs leading by a game-high 35-points early in the third term, the Bloods kicked eight of the next 10 goals to ensure both sides split the points 11.10-76 to 10.16-76.
Norwood’s midfield had a strong day, led by the dependable Nik Rokahr (29 disposals) and co-captain Matthew Nunn (26 disposals).
Fellow co-captain Jacob Kennerley (24 disposals, one goal) and Matt Panos (24 disposals, two goals) were also standout performers.
Goy Lok was a strong presence up forward with three goals whilst Jackson Callow also kicked two goals from his 20 disposals.
Ruckman Harry Boyd continued his strong season with 39 hitouts and nine clearances.
Norwood coach Jade Rawlings cited the Redlegs’ inability to put the game away when holding a commanding lead as frustrating.
“West Adelaide got some momentum and when we’ve had momentum against us this year we’ve struggled to get it back,” he said.
“They were able to win critical contests and we leaked a little bit down back.
“It’s been a consistent trend where we’ve got to a margin where you can put a game away and we haven’t been able to do it.”
Whilst Rawlings believes there were positives from the game, it was another performance that saw the Redlegs unable maintain consistency across four quarters.
“There was some exceptional footy out there today in patches, but the trend has been that there’s generally been one quarter that is hurtful,” said Rawlings.
“The group’s endeavor and effort for most of the season has been exceptional.
“It’s been very frustrating that we haven’t been able to get more reward for their effort.”
In overcast conditions at Hisense Stadium the first five minutes saw the Redlegs generate the first opportunities going forward.
Xavier Tranfa was unable to capitalise in front of goal before Baynen Lowe wheeled around on his right foot to snare Norwood’s first goal with a classy finish 25m out from goal.
West Adelaide successfully locked the ball in its forward half over a five-minute period but were unable to capitalise, registering three behinds.
A long probing kick from Lowe sent the Redlegs inside forward, with Jackson Callow taking a towering pack mark and converting from 25m out directly in front, handing the Redlegs a 10-point lead.
A free kick to Josh Gore saw West Adelaide kick its fourth behind of the day, as they continued to miss opportunities going forward.
The Bloods registered their first goal through Michael Mattingly who steamed through the middle of the ground to receive a handball, converting on the run from just inside 50.
A brilliant grab in the middle of the ground from co-captain Jacob Kennerley saw him deliver the ball to Callow inside forward 50, who wheeled and turned to find Matt Panos 20m in front of goal.
A strong contested mark from West Adelaide defender Josh Ryan thwarted any late charge for the Redlegs as they took a nine-point lead into the first break, 3.1-19 to 1.4-10.
The Redlegs won the possession battle 89-80 in the first term but lost the clearances 8-9 and the inside 50s 9-11.
Norwood was more efficient inside forward 50 however, registering three goals from nine entries.
Redlegs ball magnet Nik Rokahr led all possession winners on the ground with 11 at quarter time.
A contested ball win saw Thomas Donnelly send the Redlegs inside forward 50 to begin the second quarter as Connor McLean marked and goaled to stretch the lead out to 15-points.
The Redlegs continued to lock the ball in their forward half off the back of some brilliant work from Harry Boyd in the ruck.
Kennerley pumped the ball inside forward 50 where Panos crumbed and goaled, kicking his second major of the day, extending Norwood’s lead to 22-points.
The Redlegs continued to lock the ball in their forward half, but fluent connection from backline to forward line saw the Bloods break their scoring deadlock, as Ned Stevens missed his set shot from 40m out.
Luke Redfern kicked truly following a strong build up of play for the Bloods, trimming the margin to 16-points midway through the second term.
The Bloods continued to press forward but were unable to turn it into goals, turning the ball over repeatedly inside forward 50.
A West Adelaide kick out of bounds saw Norwood forward Goy Lok presented with an opportunity from the boundary, where he snapped around his body with a classy finish, extending Norwood’s margin back out to 20-points.
Boyd won the ball in the middle in the ground at the next centre bounce to push Norwood forward, with Callow on the end of a handball to convert his second goal of the day.
Another centre clearance win handed Lok another opportunity in front of goal as he marked strongly and converted from 35m out directly in front, as the Redlegs pushed out to a 32-point margin.
Repeat inside 50s saw the Bloods kick three consecutive behinds as they attempted to reduce the deficit before the main break, with Norwood holding a 8.3-51 to 2.10-22 lead at half time.
Norwood dominated possession in the first half 193-140 and dominated the clearances 14-2 (22-11 overall) in the second quarter.
A centre clearance win to Matt Panos to begin the third quarter saw the Redlegs enter forward 50 again, with Kennerley converting from a set shot to push the Redlegs out to a game-high 35-point lead.
After a scrap on the wing the Bloods pushed forward and a holding free kick saw Joel Stevens on the end of a goal, West Adelaide’s third for the day from 13 scoring shots.
A turnover on the paint of forward 50 enabled Callum Park to swoop on the opportunity, kicking back-to-back goals for the Bloods as they trimmed the margin to 23-points.
The momentum continued for West Adelaide as Liam Delahunty marked inside forward 50, converting from 40m out directly in front before Redfern marked on a strong lead minutes later, kicking the Bloods’ fourth goal in-a-row.
West Adelaide locked the ball inside its forward line but couldn’t continue its run of goals, registering three consecutive behinds.
Callow won a crucial one-on-one marking contest on the half forward flank for Norwood before pumping the ball long to the goal square, where Tristan Binder marked strongly and converted, offering the Redlegs some sought after breathing space with a 14-point lead.
The Redlegs regained some control to produce multiple opportunities inside 50 but couldn’t convert, it would prove costly as the Bloods charged forward to kick their fifth goal of the quarter, and reduce the margin to 10-points.
Luke Surman had a set shot opportunity from 45m out late in the third term, but was unable to convert, as the Redlegs held an 11-point lead at three quarter time 10.6-66 to 7.13-55.
Norwood continued to own possession but West Adelaide held their own at the clearances in the third quarter (9-11) and increased its lead in forward entries to 29-38.
It was West Adelaide who got off to the fast start in the final quarter as Bloods youngster Kobe Ryan kicked a goal that would see the Redlegs’ margin trimmed to just six-points.
The game turned into an arm-wrestle before the Redlegs found their way forward with Lok snaffling a ground ball on the edge of the goal square to kick over his body for a momentum-halting major, his third of the day.
Both teams failed to trouble the scoreboard significantly over the next ten minutes before a quick transition from defence to attack saw West Adelaide’s Josh Gore on the end of a crucial goal that cut Norwood’s margin to six-points.
Another surge forward two minutes later saw West Adelaide on the attack again, as Owen Mulady swooped on an opportunity 20m out from goal to level the scores.
A Jayden Gale kick that bounced into the goal post seemingly took Norwood to the safety of a one-point lead within the final minute of the game.
However, the Bloods surged forward from the kick in to find Redfern on forward 50, with his shot after the siren only registering a behind to ensure the game ended in a draw 11.10-76 to 10.16-76.
Saturday’s draw sees Norwood sit ninth on the SANFL ladder (5-11-1).
The Redlegs return home to Coopers Stadium next Saturday to take on the Adelaide Crows, in the final round of the 2023 SANFL season.
Norwood: 3.1, 8.3, 10.6, 11.10 – 76
West Adelaide: 1.4, 2.10, 7.13, 10.16 – 76
Goals: Lok 3, Callow, Panos 2, Binder, Kennerley, Lowe, McLean
Best: Panos, Rokahr, Boyd, Lowe, Callow
Norwood sits just .3% outside the top five with one match to play in the SANFL Reserves competition this Saturday.
The Redlegs take on Central District in Elizabeth this Saturday (11:30am), while the current fifth placed Woodville-West Torrens take on West Adelaide in Woodville.
Both the fifth and sixth placed Eagles and Redlegs have a 7-10 win-loss record, with Woodville-West Torrens having a percentage of 47.5% over Norwood’s 47.3% ahead of the final match of the home and away season.
On the surface, the Eagles have the more straight-forward task this Saturday. Playing at home against the seventh placed Bloods, while Norwood heads north to take on the third placed Centrals.
The Redlegs kept their finals hopes alive on Saturday with a 17-point win over West Adelaide at Hisense Stadium in Richmond.
Norwood led from start to finish, but it was far from easy as the Bloods never let the margin balloon out further than 25 points.
Liam Robinson, Oliver Sanders and Macaulay Glover kicked the first three goals of the contest to get Norwood off to a fast start.
Leading by 12 points at quarter time, Norwood were challenged in the second term when West Adelaide booted the first goal of the quarter, before U18 captain Jacob Jones and Nicholas Weightman steadied with Redlegs goals.
The Bloods kicked a goal just before half time to annoy the Norwood players and coaches, making it a 10-point margin at the main break – 6.2-38 to 4.4-28.
Both teams were inaccurate in the second half, with Norwood booting 4.7 to Westies 3.6.
The Redlegs kicked away with three of the next four goals after half time to make it a match-high 25-point margin deep in the third term.
But West Adelaide started the last quarter with plenty of spark, kicking back to back goals and missing several other opportunities to bring the margin back to 10 points with 10 minutes to play.
Ben Jarvis booted a steadying goal with two minutes to play to ensure victory for Norwood, 10.9-69 to 7.10-52.
Luke Bogle had 24 disposals, 12 tackles, six clearances and kicked a goal, while Henry Nelligan had 22 disposals, six tackles and five clearances in his second game back at Norwood.
Jones had his best of his eight Reserves games for Norwood with 19 disposals and a goal, while Jarvis booted two goals.
The Redlegs were also assisted with Glenelg defeating the Eagles 13.10-88 to 10.9-69 on Saturday, making the finals jump a more achievable task.
Yes, the finals dream is still alive.
Norwood 4.1, 6.2, 9.7, 10.9 – 69
West Adelaide 2.1, 4.4, 5.7, 7.10 – 52
Goals: Jarvis 2, Bogle, F. Heard, Glover, Jones, Nicholls, Robinson, Sanders, Weightman
Best: Bogle, van Wyk, Krollig, Cresswell, Nelligan