Norwood had a chance after the siren to record its first premiership points of the 2023 SANFL season, but the final shot went wide allowing Central District to hang on to a five-point win in Elizabeth on Saturday.
Norwood trailed by six points when Connor McLean streamed out to take the final mark of the game when the siren blew, meaning a goal would draw the game and anything but would result in a Bulldogs win.
Lining up from 40m out McLean’s shot went to the left, leaving the Bulldogs to celebrate an 8.8-56 to 7.9-51 win.
While the Redlegs had a last stitch effort to draw the game, they were in a winning position when they led by 13 points in the third term before the Bulldogs went on a run of four straight goals to turn the deficit into a 13-point three quarter time lead.
“When you get into a position when we have had a gap between wins, the level of confidence and knowing what to do to get a result can get lost, and momentum swings,” Norwood coach Jade Rawlings said post game.
“Every week in the past five games there has been a momentum swing at some stage that we haven’t been able to resist for long enough.
“We kept them to one goal in 50 minutes of footy and they were able to find two just before half time, and we got two goals up in the third quarter before they kicked four quick ones.
“Key moments are hurting us, and the level of confidence and belief has a deflating effect for the group.”
Nik Rokahr continued his consistent patch of form with 28 disposals, while key defender Pierce Seymour had 23 disposals with Central District dominating inside 50m entries 44-29.
Rawlings said his defence stood up under repeated pressure.
“Our defence were good, they withheld a lot of attacks and made some good plays, but we put too much stress on them – there were too many inside 50m entries going in there in the third quarter and eventually they get you,” he said.
In the early stages of the match Norwood’s Declan Hamilton scored the first goal of the contest at the four-minute mark.
Centrals got the quick reply when Anzac Lochowiak dribbled through the Bulldogs first goal of the day.
Norwood’s defence was standing up well against an onslaught of 6-1 inside 50m entries in the opening 10 minutes, for a 1.2-8 to 1.0-6 scoreline.
The Redlegs made the most of their second inside 50m entry, when McLean marked 47m out and nailed the set shot.
Harry Boyd continued Norwood’s hot start, winning a free kick 25m out and nailing his side’s third goal from four inside 50m entries.
Seymour found McLean with a perfect inside 50m pass, but he couldn’t find the goal and Norwood went into quarter time 3.1-19 to 1.3-9, despite Centrals winning inside 50m entries 11-7 and clearances 10-4.
Key defenders Jack Heard and Seymour each had seven disposals in the first term, while wingman Matthew Ling was enjoying the wider expanses of X Convenience Oval with six in the first term.
It was a scrappy start to the second term with both sides giving their forwards poor forward entries, and as a result neither team could score in the opening 10 minutes.
Jake Cresswell on debut finally showed some poise moving into attack and found McLean once again on the 50m line. He missed for the first score of the term.
McLean was found for the fourth time on the paint of 50m and found Cory Stockdale for the closer shot, but Stockdale missed.
Norwood looked the better team but had three behinds to their name in the second term, making it 3.4-22 to 1.3-9.
The Redlegs were dominating the game, but gave away an off the ball free kick at the 20-minute mark which led to Central’s second goal, through Luca Whitelum.
Despite being the better team for much of the second term Norwood let through another goal late through Marcus Barreau to make it a one point Redlegs lead at half time, 3.4-22 to 3.3-21.
Seymour had 14 disposals to half time, while Ling and Josh Richards each had 11 in what had been a scrappy half.
Norwood led disposals 147-138, while the Bulldogs were up in the inside 50m (24-13) and clearances (18-13) battle.
Xavier Tranfa got an important steadying goal for the Redlegs to kick off the second half, a long set shot which finished off a night string of uncontested marks from end to end.
The Redlegs were pressing and won the resulting centre clearance but it finished in a minor score.
Both sides had passages where they moved the ball nicely, and Centrals moved it from end to end but again couldn’t finish off in front of goal.
At the mid-way point of the third term Norwood led by seven points, 4.5-29 to 3.4-22.
The Redlegs found their fifth goal when Baynen Lowe worked his opponent under the ball and dribbled it through to make it a 13-point lead.
Norwood was on top and another goal would have put the Bulldogs under scoreboard pressure (a 19-point lead in a low scoring game would have been tough to reel in), but it was Centrals who found a goal against the run of play through Leyton Chisholm.
The Bulldogs found back to back goals when Aiden Grace goaled from long range and it was again a one point ballgame, before a third straight goal saw Centrals take the lead at the 20-minute mark.
Like they have all year, the Redlegs have given up strings of consecutive goals and a fourth straight Centrals goal in eight minutes gave the Bulldogs a 13-point lead at three quarter time, 7.6-48 to 5.5-35.
Centrals were threatening to blow the Redlegs away, but it was Norwood that got the first goal of the final term when Goy Lok drew a free kick and went back to nail the goal.
A Lowe behind made it an even six-point game and Norwood was again pressing with repeated inside 50m entries and shots at goal, none of which made it through the big sticks.
At the 12-minute mark Centrals led by five points, 7.7-49 to 6.8-44.
A costly turnover at half forward led to Centrals running the length of the field and kicking the next goal through A. Lochowiak to make it an 11-point margin.
Matt Panos put Norwood six points behind at the 24-minute mark, but the ball went Central’s way from the centre bounce and found Barreau who couldn’t score.
Some desperate work on the goal line from Seymour ensured it remained six points and the Redlegs went end to end.
A kick inside 50m from a boundary throw found McLean on a strong lead, with the siren ringing before he went back to take his kick.
McLean’s kick missed to the left and Centrals claimed a five-point win.
Norwood next face South Adelaide in Noarlunga on the King’s Birthday Monday.
Norwood 3.1, 3.4, 5.5, 7.9 – 51
Central District 1.3, 3.3, 7.6, 8.8 – 56
Goals: Boyd, Hamilton, Lowe, McLean, Tranfa, Lok, Panos
Norwood’s Reserves took on the top of the table Central District on Saturday and it was the Bulldogs who ran out 38-point winners thanks to a strong final quarter.
The Bulldogs lead was just six points at half time and 18 points at three quarter time before Centrals booted the first five goals of the fourth quarter to sprint out to a 50-point lead.
Norwood kicked the last two goals of the game but it was the Bulldogs who enjoyed a 14.9-93 to 8.7-55 win.
Lachie Pascoe kicked four goals for Norwood, while Luke Bogle had 24 disposals, nine clearances and three tackles.
The Redlegs sit fifth on the Reserves ladder with a 4-4 win-loss record and have another tough task ahead in the fourth placed South Adelaide in Noarlunga on Monday.
Norwood 2.2, 5.4, 6.6, 8.7 – 55
Central District 3.0, 6.4, 9.6, 14.9 – 93
Goals: Pascoe 4, Hyde 2, Robinson, Baldwin
Best: Gale, Bogle, Pascoe, Stingel, Robinson