Tamworth AFL Round 16 Review
Match One: New England Nomads 13.13.91 def Inverell Saints 11.15.81 at Bellevue Oval
The Nomads have staked their claims for the 2012 TAFL Premiership by defeating the Saints in Armidale on Saturday. It was a match that went in ebbs and flows for much of the 100 minutes, but the Nomads held the advantage of much of the contest. The boys from Armidale started like a house on fire, and kicked the first 3 goals of the match to leave the Saints scrambling to catch. However, the Saints fought back late in the quarter and took a one point lead into the first change. The next quarter was almost a carbon copy, as again the Nomads opened up a handy lead, at one point out to 25 points, before the Saints rallied and got back to within 2 kicks at the half. The match was crying out for someone to take it by the scruff of the neck, and the Saints were the ones who blinked, leaving the Nomads to take full advantage late in the third quarter. They kicked 4 goals in the last 5 minutes of the quarter, and with another right at the start of the last, the Nomads were out to a 34 point lead and it looked as though the flood gates could open. The Saints however were not done with yet, and got kicked the next 4 goals of the game to give themselves a sniff with 5 minutes left on the clock. They couldn’t repeat the heroics of a fortnight ago and the Nomads held on to record a massive win two weeks out from finals.
For the Nomds, Ash Cruikshank was huge all day and their most dangerous across the forward line, with Dave Richards also very strong. Half back Zac Economou was excellent in defence and Simon Stubs important through the ruck. For the Saints, Hamish Bird was outstanding on a wing, with Tom Williams and Russell Brien strong in the middle.
The Nomads will now face the Roos at home in a massive clash that will decide the Minor Premiership and the team that has the rights to the home Major Semi. The Saints need to rebound when they face the Cats in Tamworth.
Match Two: Muswellbrook Cats 17.8.110 def Tamworth Swans 14.11.95 at Werriman Field
The Cats have kept alive their slim finals hopes with a stirring 15 point victory over the Swans in Muswellbrook. The Cats started slowly, and the Swans, needing to win to stay in the hunt for finals action, to the running right up to them. The results was an 11 point lead at the first change for the visitors and they would have taken some confidence from their first 25 minutes. However, the Cats were just as desperate for the win, and fought back to take the lead with a strong second stanza, kicking 7 goals to 3 for the period. The Swans again lifted in the third quarter and re –took the lead with a quarter to go. A frantic last quarter ensued, with both teams battling with their season on the line. With the aid of the breeze, and the home crowd, the Cats came home the better. They kicked another 5 goals in the last quarter to the Swans 2, and saw the final margin at 15 points. The result sees the Swans out of the race for the finals in 2012, but the Cats with still a mathematical chance of making the post season. For the Cats, Stu McAdam and Ken Garland both slotted 4 majors in strong performances, with Brady Grant, Cameron Davis and Jai Pursell all producing excellent games. The Swans were best served by Mark Verrell, Gavin Knee and Andrew Donohue with Paul Tapper and Scott Nowland kicking 3 goals each.
The Cats will now head to Tamworth to face the Saints, where a comprehensive win is needed to make the final 4. The Swans will host the Dogs in Tamworth and will play only for pride.
Match Three: Tamworth Kangaroos 18.16.124 def Gunnedah Bulldogs 14.10.94 at Wolseley Oval
The Roos have giving themselves a chance of getting their second successive Minor Premiership with a 5 goal win over the Bulldogs in Gunnedah. It was a win that was set up early and was all but over at the half with the Roos holding a commanding 47 point lead. They got out of the blocks quicker than Usain Bolt, kicking 7 goals to one in the first stanza to open up a 33 point lead at the first change. The Bulldogs responded in the second, but couldn’t take any ground of the Roos, as the boys from Tamworth piled on another 6 goals in the period. Needing a miracle to get back in the game, the Bulldogs threw everything at the Roos in the third, but it was more of the same as the lead was extended out beyond 50 points with a quarter to play. Sensing a huge game next week, the Roos took the foot off the pedal a little bit in the last quarter, and the Dogs managed to get the final margin back to a respectable 30 points, but one senses this match was over as a contest well before the final siren. The dangerous duo of Dan Overeem and Matt Hodge again dominated up front, kicking 4 goals each. Ben Coombes, Tim Cotter and Alex Hudson were the best for the victors who are now close to being favourites for the flag. For the Dogs, Chris Gee kept alive his chances of snaring the Gerry Griffiths Medal by kicking 4, with Andrew George, Matt Pengilly and Shane Murphy their best on a tough day.
The Dogs will now face the Swans in Tamworth and look almost certainties to hold onto fourth spot. They cannot afford to take next week’s game too lightly however, with the Cats still a chance of knocking them off. The Roos will face the Nomads in a massive clash that will decide which team hosts the Major Semi on August 18th.