|Team||1st Quarter||2nd Quarter||3rd Quarter||4th Quarter|
F.Evans, J.Battersby, Z.Kirkwood, A.Riley, G.Page
J.Stephens, P.Wilson, B.Sumner, S.McMahon, J.Osborn
K.Beard 2, M.Evans 1, T.Harms 1, J.Hone 1,
A.Riley 1, J.Sutcliffe 1
Best On Ground (Jack Oatey Medal)
39,813 (Adelaide Oval)
Sturt has clung on by the barest of margins to win a classic Grand Final by just one point against red hot favourite Port Adelaide at the Adelaide Oval in front of the largest SANFL Grand Final crowd since Port defeated the Double Blues in 1998. Marty Mattner’s brave charges managed to hold off a fast finishing Magpies outfit in one of the most thrilling finishes to a title decider seen in recent times, earning their first back-to-back titles since 1969-70 and 15th premiership overall. The Double Blues capped off a fine season which began with a 0-4 win loss count and didn’t result in an opening win until Round 6. Leading at every change of the pulsating contest, Sturt seemed to have the Pies spirit broken at the final break when midfielder Aidan Riley kicked the only goal of the third term at the 25th minute mark with a fine snap from a stoppage. It gave Sturt a handy 17 point buffer at three quarter time, which was significant given the tense nature of the absorbing battle, but Chad Cornes outfit – desperate to end the longest premiership drought (17 years) in club history – refused to lie down, starting the final term with plenty of energy and zest. Port goalsneak Jake Neade got things rolling with a fine goal on the run which bounced through before Brendon Ah Chee kicked a beauty on his left foot from the boundary line and once Tom Gray converted a set shot from just 20 metres out on a slight angle, the scores were level 13 minutes into the fourth quarter. Not to be denied, Sturt regained the lead once Kory Beard kicked truly in the goalsquare after receiving a free kick and a 25 metre penalty and when James Battersby followed up with what would turn out to be a golden point three minutes later, it gave Sturt a 7 point break 21 minutes into the quarter. Ah Chee got his side back within a point when he kicked a pressure set shot from 45 metres after receiving a free kick for being infringed in a marking contest and the Double Blues led by the slimmest of margins. It led to a tense final few minutes with the siren sounding with the ball locked inside the Double Blues forward 50 metre arc. This ensured Sturt would record just the third time in 44 years that a team has recovered from a Qualifying Final loss to win the flag, following the Double Blues of 1976 and Eagles of 2011. Sturt defender Fraser Evans was a fitting winner of the Jack Oatey Medal, playing an outstanding defenders game by not only blanketing his direct opponent, Brett Eddy, but also earning 13 disposals, 5 marks and 3 tackles as well as 9 rebound 50’s. Last year’s Jack Oatey Medallist, Jack Stephens, was also a tower of strength in defence, repelling many attacks and taking intercept marks as the Double Blues back six absorbed a truckload of pressure from the Magpies. Skipper Zane Kirkwood had a blistering first half to finish with 22 disposals while James Battersby, Aidan Riley and Patrick Wilson did a power of work at the stoppages, winning clearances and laying 29 tackles between them. Retiring veteran Scott McMahon had 15 touches and several important moments while forward Kory Beard kicked 2 goals. After 7 wins in a row, the Magpies were never really able to get their trademark running game going until early in the fourth term, before the Double Blues were able to lock the game down yet again, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the all conquering Sturt, which became the first SANFL club to win the League, Reserves and Under 18’s Premiership’s all in the same year.