In this week’s round-up of local SA football, we look ahead to the interstate country clash, a country full-forward kicks 34 goals in one match, the SANFL Crows break records and much more.
Francis to captain SA Country
Highly decorated Tasman’s midfielder from the Port Lincoln Football league, Reece Francis, has been given the honour of captaining his state when the SA Country team take on WA Country in Perth this Saturday.
Riverton-Saddleworth-Marrabel United captain-coach and Woodville West Torrens premiership full back in 2006, Zack Hier, has been picked as his deputy.
Coach Steve Lubcke said the selectors have compiled a versatile squad, with a number of options to push through the middle for SA’s on-ball rotations.
The team includes two Adelaide Crows development players, Meningie’s Miles Warmington and big Noarlunga forward Nick Mott, as well as a heap of experience.
“Despite this side being a bit of a changing of the guard, as there is only a handful from last year, with our midfield personnel there is still plenty of experience,” Lubcke said.
He said SA’s defence was strong, including Hier and Paskeville’s Tyson Wait, a previous captain across half back, while Penola veteran Adam Merrett has strong experience at this level.
“I was really impressed with the work rate of ruckman Scott Hunt at the country championships and the versatility we have across our entire group. This is an exciting challenge for us.”
There is a good sprinkling of SANFL talent as midfielder Brian Fenton played in the 2013 SANFL Grand Final for North Adelaide, while Campbell Combe is a SA under 18 championship winning player in ’13 and debuted for the Roosters last year.
This team also includes athletic forward Ziggy Vitkunas, who played league football at Sturt, while full back Callum Hay was a Power rookie listed player for a year.
South Australia has won each of the previous three exchanges with WA Country.
Gotch raises the bat
South Australia’s often unheralded midfielder Xavier Gotch will play his 100th SANFL league game this weekend against Norwood.
Gotch will achieve the milestone under Panthers coach Brad Gotch – his father.
“It first happened when Dad was coaching at Williamstown in in the VFL in 2009,” Xavier confirmed.
“At the moment we are living together as well, as I try and save some money to buy a house.
“So at the moment he’s is coaching me, trying to be a dad and a housemate.
“When we are at club it is all business – we’ve been reasonable successful in dad’s time coaching – and it is easier when you’re winning games of football.”
Brad Gotch says it’s no trial coaching his son.
“It’s actually a pleasure coaching Xavier because he is the ultimate team man where everything he does is for the team’s success,” said Gotch senior.
“On top of that he prepares extremely well, doing everything that is expected of him and also encourages others to follow as well.
“You know what you are going to get from him each week which is effort and him playing his role so that’s pleasing.
“Xavier stayed the course with South and he has plenty of mates there that he would like to have some success with.”
Vale an SA country football icon
SANFL League Life Member and South Australian Football Hall of Fame inductee Don McSweeny has died at the age of 84.
McSweeny’s contribution to local football spanned 70 years, beginning as a player for the Cummins Football Club on the Eyre Peninsula.
As well as his passionate involvement in country football, McSweeny made a mark in the SANFL. Over the journey he was honoured with life membership of the Port Adelaide Football Club, the Great Flinders Football League and the SANFL.
The best player award at the SA Country Championships is also awarded the Don McSweeny medal.
SA football has lost a tremendous servant of rural football.
Crows breaks records against North
Adelaide broke a couple of SANFL records in their round 14 match against North Adelaide at Prospect Oval on Saturday.
For the first time in their initial 30 matches at league level the Crows had a 100-point victory, defeating the Roosters by 101 points.
Just 17 points up at half time, the 12.2 the Crows kicked in the third quarter is a club record score for a single term.
The final score 25.10 (160) was the Crows highest score in the SANFL, beating its 22.8 (140) effort against Sturt a couple of round earlier.
“To be fair to North, they didn’t let us play our style of game in the first half,” Adelaide’s SANFL coach Heath Younie said.
“After that it changed and I was very happy with the performance from that point.
“Cameron (Ellis-Yolmen) was every good after half time – that’s where he won the major of his possessions.”
The tall midfielder, who was squeezed out of the Crows AFL side, finished with 38 disposals, including 22 handballs, 10 marks, 10 clearances and a pair of goals.
Geelong premiership forward James Podsiadly kicked five goals in the victory, while Jarryd Lyons finished with four.
This shot captures the moment last Saturday when South Gawler’s Levi Hudson blind-sided Nuriootpa’s Henry Slattery with a bone-crunching, but fair, tackle.
The best tackle I snapped before this was current RSMU playing coach Zack Hier’s power tackle of Norwood’s Aaron Kite back in 2009 (below).
From top to bottom
Last year the Hamley Bridge Bombers won the Adelaide Plains title.
Last Saturday at Virginia Oval the hosts kicked 59.18 (372) to the Bombers 1.2 (8), with the reigning premiers being defeated by 364 points.
Virginia Rams full forward Brendon Niklaus kicked a career high 34 goals and Andrew Ross finished with a bag of 10.
Niklaus has now kicked 53 goals against Hamley Bridge his year in two outings and has 107 goals in 11 appearances so far this winter.
His haul is six short of former four-time Central District premiership footballer Quinton Graham’s known record in country football of 40 goals for Gumeracha in the Hills Country Division against easybeats Callington in 2010.
Another Roosters debutant
One of the classy performers at the national Under 18s championships, 17-year-old ruck man Brandon Parfitt made his SANFL league debut in North Adelaide’s clash against Adelaide last weekend.
He follows a large number of Northern Territorians – including Michael Long, Andrew McLeod, brothers Gilbert and Greg McAdam and Mathew Stokes – who have come south and initially proved their worth as footballers in the SANFL.
Parfitt was solid first up with 17 disposals, including 11 kicks, five tackles and four clearances, despite the Roosters’ large loss.
Noted for being hard at the contest and courageous in his attack on the ball, Parfitt possesses real composure and used the ball with precision by hand and foot.
SANFL under 15s winners
Norwood and its new country zone, the Eyre Peninsula, has won the 2015 under 15s intra-state championships.
Norwood’s boys had a comfortable 34-point win over Glenelg country (South East) at AAMI Stadium last Friday.
They asserted their authority in the third quarter and finished winner 9.8 (62) to 4.4 (28).
The Redlegs EP lads had a host of impressive players included Jacob Kennerley, Tom Humphries and athletic big man Reyner Clarke.
Glenelg collected its third SANFL intra-state Under 15 metropolitan crown since 2011, when they defeated North Adelaide in a thrilling grand final contest, also at AAMI Stadium.
The Bays won by three points after North kicked a goal on the siren. ,The final score was Glenelg 5.9 (59) to the Roosters 5.5 (35).
Better players from the Bays included defender Brad Thompson, skipper and state under 15s player Tynan Carney, Oscar Lovelock and Joe Hocking.
Boyd Woodcock was the Roosters best, along with Liam Moore and Daniel Dunlop.
Grassroots is published on Wednesdays.
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