New England on the ropes

By Michael Morrissey (Armidale Express, 26/07/2006)
It’s amazing how quickly fate has turned on New England Nomads.

For the first half of the Tamworth Australian Football League season the New England Nomads were the competition benchmark – firm at the top and undefeated.

Now they’re languishing at the bottom of the top four, fighting to stay in finals contention after suffering their fourth straight loss against the Tamworth Kangaroos.

A soft second quarter was all it took to put the dagger into the Nomads, with New England eventually falling down 14.12.96 to 7.9.51.

Despite walking away from the fixture without a win in his pocket, Nomads coach Adrian Walsh thought his team did give an improved performance when compared with the Saturday before against the Saints.

“We played hard with a lot of heart and a lot better that the previous week,” Walsh said.

And once again the Nomads were crippled by the university holidays.

“We’re still missing five or so key players but they’ll be back this week,” Walsh said.

The unfortunate thing about the Nomads’ draw this year is that there’s only 12 games and the four hardest games have been when the students are away.

“It’s been hard but it’s no excuse, we should have beaten them on Saturday.

“They beat us in the air.

“We didn’t really play that smart, because they’re probably the best marking side in the league, and we played to their strengths a bit too much.

“We needed to run the ball and in that sense we probably missed Rich Malone and John Mahy who run the ball out wide.”

Best players on the paddocks included Anthony Reid, Glen Northway, Mark Curran and Matt Maxwell.

“Brendan Meehan killed it in the backline and lead the way,” Walsh said.

“He was at the fall of every ball, he punched, he didn’t let his opponent get near it and he was smart with the way he delivered it forward.

“Tommy Hunt tried his heart out all day. He was not only jumping and knocking the ball he was also at the bottom of every pack.”

The tough encounter did leave the Nomads with two injuries – Maxwell with a swollen ankle and Joel Webber with a damaged AC joint in his shoulder.

Walsh hopes both will be back in business by the start of the finals.

It will be a matter of life or death for the Nomads from here on in.

They must beat the Eagles on Saturday and have to defeat the Bulldogs the following weekend.

Walsh has no intention of being pipped at the post by the Cats again.

“We’ve just got to get it together this week and back to the running game we had earlier in the year.”

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