By ZAC MILBANK
South Australia continued their unbeaten streak at the NAB AFLW U18 National Championships with a gutsy three-point win over Victoria Metro at Werribee on Friday.
Challenging their rivals and the only other team unbeaten throughout the tournament, the Croweaters showed tremendous heart as they opened play in the third term before being forced into a fierce defense at the end of the fourth.
Starring Woodville-West Torrens’ Shineah Goody and North Adelaide’s Hannah Ewings, the visitors produced a wonderful team performance to ensure they finished with an average winning margin of 59 points over their three matches.
Leading by just one goal at half-time, it didn’t take long for Goody to make her presence felt when she was awarded a free-kick for a backside push four minutes into the main break.
The talented Eagle converted with a snap before earning another free-kick, this time for pushing her opponent into the ball due to an exceptional tackle.
With his second major, Goody calmly landed his set piece from a difficult 20m angle to open a 17-point lead 13 minutes into the third quarter.
SA began to overwhelm their opponents with exceptional pressure in their 50m forward arc, resulting in opportunistic ground football from Ella Little, which gave the Croweaters a handy three-goal buffer on the final substitution.
Goals from two 50m penalties in the last term helped Victoria Metro in their unlikely comeback, only to be continually thwarted by the desperate SA defense in their back half.
And there was no better example than North Adelaide’s Elaine Grigg applying a crisp tackle at mid-back in the final 30 seconds.
Although he didn’t earn a deserved free kick, he ensured that SA coach Tim Weatherald would be immensely proud of his charges after staying ahead at the final siren.
Goody finished with a record 27 eliminations, six clearances and seven tackles to go along with her two game-clinching goals in a stunning all-around performance that earned her the title of SA Championships MVP.
Ewings totaled 23 takedowns, five clearances and six tackles to go along with his first goal of the game while Norwood’s Sachi Syme kept up his winning streak with 19 possessions.
Glenelg’s pair Sarah Goodwin and Ella Boag had 18 possessions each, with the latter also adding a stylish running goal in the second term at 25m.
Tiger Piper Window and Redleg Lana Schwerdt were excellent defensively, as evidenced by their combination for 20 tackles.
SA comfortably won their first two NAB AFLW National Championship games, beating Western Australia by 84 points at Thebarton Oval and Victoria Country by 92 points at Adelaide Oval.
The 2022 NAB AFLW National Championships conclude on April 30 when Queensland host the Allies at Metricon Stadium.
The Player of the Championships Medal will be awarded to the most outstanding performer in the competition following the final match, along with the announcement of the Australia Women’s U18 team.
AS 1.2 2.2 5.2 5.3 (33)
Vic M 1.0 1.2 2.3 4.6 (30)
BEST – SA: Shineah Goody, Sarah Goodwin, Piper Window, Keeley Kustermann, Kiera Mueller, India Rasheed
GOALS – SA: Shineah Goody 2, Hannah Ewings, Ella Boag, Ella Little
At Avalon Airport Oval, Werribee