NFC Senior Women

Norwood is through to SANFLW finals

Candice Belbin celebrates her first quarter goal with Shai Hiscock and Elle Lineage. Photo Maya Thompson NFC

Norwood has at long last booked its ticked to the SANFLW finals series following a gritty six-point win over West Adelaide at Richmond Oval on Saturday afternoon, and will take on Central District in this weekend’s Semi Final.

The Redlegs had set themselves up for a finals entry, requiring just one win from their last three matches to qualify for finals… but after squandering winning opportunities in their first two attempts it all came down to Saturday’s final round of the regular season.

It also happened to come against other finals aspirant West Adelaide on its home deck, meanwhile at Unley Oval Sturt was doing all it could to also snare the final top four spot.

At Richmond, the lead changed hands four times and with every goal that put West Adelaide in front Norwood dropped from fourth to sixth… and when the Redlegs reclaimed the lead they jumped back into fourth.

The Double Blues defeated the bottom of the table North Adelaide 8.5-53 to 2.4-16, which meant if Norwood had have lost Sturt would have taken fourth spot.

That didn’t happen, as Norwood went on to claim a tense 4.6-30 to 4.0-24 victory to keep its Premiership hopes alive, and crush Sturt’s and West Adelaide’s dreams in the process.

Candice Belbin, Jade Halfpenny, Kiana Lee and Tahlita Buethke were enormous for Norwood in the season defining win. Belbin had 13 disposals, laid 13 tackles and gathered six clearances to go with a first quarter goal.

Lee kicked two goals in the third term to turn a two-point half time deficit into an 11-point three quarter time lead for the Redlegs.

Lee also gathered 17 disposals, nine marks, two clearances and finished with the two goals.

Halfpenny had 18 disposals, while Buethke had 14 touches in the first half, before being well held in the second half to finish with 16 for the game.

Halfpenny won the first clearance, booted it long in the Lee direction, and from there Norwood trapped the ball in its forward half in the first five minutes.

Despite the 4-0 inside 50m count, Norwood couldn’t work it close enough to threaten the goalface.

Eventually the Redlegs broke through the 50m zone, with Adrienne Davies winning a strong one on one, taking a bounce and running the ball to 20m, but unfortunately couldn’t finish with the goal.

Norwood was dominating field position and a second shot on goal to Tesharna Maher missed to the left.

The Redlegs finally broke through with a goal to Belbin, a much needed reward for effort.

After 10 minutes it was 1.2-8 to no score.

West Adelaide found its first inside 50m entry of the day from the centre clearance, but Norwood’s defense held strong.

The Redlegs defence was under siege with the Bloods finding nine of the next 10 entries.

A down field free kick, followed by a 25m penalty cost Norwood a goal after the quarter time siren.

At the first break it was 1.2-8 to 1.0-6.

After Norwood’s strong start Westies led inside 50m entries 9-5 in the first term, while Norwood led clearances 10-4.

Buethke had nine disposals to quarter time.

It was a game of momentum, and Norwood had all of it to start the second term.

Again, the Redlegs couldn’t convert on their outstanding forward half pressure which made the Bloods turn the ball over in their defensive half.

West finally transitioned down to its attacking half, and Norwood gave away an anti-density free kick which helped the Bloods to the first goal of the term. It was a set shot to Molly Peterson to make the score 2.0-12 to 1.3-9 in favour of the Bloods after eight minutes.

The goal pushed Norwood out of the top four on the live ladder, with Sturt elevating itself into finals contention with a four-goal lead over the Roosters at Unley Oval.

Halfpenny was having a big impact and stretched back to take a mark 35m out, she wheeled around on her right foot but missed to make it 2.0-12 to 1.4-16.

The Bloods made a blunder from the kick in and Davies capitalized, walking into an open goal to put the Redlegs back in front, and back in the top four.

A slice of fortune again favoured West Adelaide in the last two minutes of the half, as the Bloods transitioned along the wing before Jemma Ellis rolled and span her side’s third goal through. A ball that turned at right angles on the goal line.

At half time it was West Adelaide leading 3.0-18 to 2.4-16.

Buethke had 14 to half time, and Halfpenny 11.

Norwood led clearances 16-9, tackles 40-29, but inside 50m were even at 11-11.

Westies kick-mark game was evident, and led marks 38-13.

Norwood started the second half in sixth place on what was a very fickle ladder, while Sturt held fourth with a 4.4-28 to 1.0-6 half time lead over the Roosters.

There was no free-flowing football to start the third quarter, as a tackling game took hold.

The ball slowly made its way from the western wing to West Adelaide’s half forward line, taking several minutes to do so.

Finally, the Redlegs won a free kick and got it moving their way. But both sides refused to move an inch as seasons were on the line.

Georgina Birchall came bursting out of a pack and got some speed on the ball, and found Mykaela Walker at half forward. Walker hit Lineage on the lead, who couldn’t convert but for the first time of the quarter a team threatened to score.

After a slow grinding 10 minutes it was still scoreless, and Westies maintained their two-point lead.

Norwood’s class was coming to the fore and Lee was found 25m out. Her set shot slid to the right and the margin was one point.

Both sides were making crucial errors with West Adelaide giving away an anti-density free kick, which allowed Lee another chance at goal.

This time she converted and moved the needle back in Norwood’s favour, 3.5-23 to 3.0-18 at the 13-minute mark.

It was only five points, but West Adelaide was hanging on, with the entire quarter played in Norwood’s half.

Norwood was set up well behind the ball, and Nicola Burns marked a rebound 50m uncontested. She found Charlotte Nenke, who was then awarded a 25m penalty and moved inside 50m. She found Lee at the top of the goalsquare, who went back and booted her second goal of the quarter.

The Redlegs were now 11 points in front on the cusp of three quarter time.

Kate Alexander took the ball out of the ruck to get the Redlegs moving forward again, but the siren beat Norwood.

After a dominant second half of the third quarter where the Redlegs kicked two goals to none, the visitors led 4.5-29 to 3.0-18 and finals were in sight.

Norwood dominated territory in the third term, going 7-1 inside 50m entries.

West Adelaide refused to go away and found a goal in the first two minutes of the last quarter to bring it back to five points.

Lee was having a huge second half, and marked at half forward. She found Halfpenny 40m out and got it moving quickly, ending with Belbin who was bumped off the shot at goal in a potentially game saving tackle for West.

Norwood had another shot a minute later which hit the post to make it six points, 4.6-30 to 4.0-24 at the six minute mark.

It was the final score of the game, but a tense final 12 minutes played out. Just one score would level the game.

Norwood managed to hold on, thinking its way through the eternity of 12 minutes and a season on the line.

The siren blew, and the Redlegs had hung on. They join South Adelaide, Central District and Glenelg in the SANFLW finals, which get underway next weekend.

Norwood will play the third placed Central District on Saturday, June 22 from 2:20pm in an Elimination Semi Final at Flinders University Stadium in Noarlunga. The Qualifying Semi Final between minor premiers South Adelaide and Glenelg will take place from 12pm at the same venue.


Norwood 1.2, 2.4, 4.5, 4.6 – 30

West Adelaide 1.0, 3.0, 3.0, 4.0 – 24

Goals: Lee 2, Davies, Belbin

Best: Belbin, Lee, Buethke, Helfpenny, Burns

Kiana Lee, front, kicked two vital third quarter goals.