Port rocks the Tablelands

by James Polson (Armidale Express, 26/03/2007)
The annual Tablelands Cup, often a reliable guide for the upcoming Tamworth Australian Football League (TAFL) season, was held at Bellevue Oval on Saturday.

The competition featured the New England Nomads, Tamworth, the Inverell Saints and Port Macquarie, who were invited after regular participants the Nambucca Lions were unable to attend.

The Nomads finished with the same result as last year – second – behind the visiting Magpies from the North Coast competition.

Nomads co-coach Ben Page was impressed with his side’s showing, despite the eventual loss in the penultimate match.

“Port Macquarie were a little bit too good for us on the day,” he said.

“It’s the first time in a few years that they’ve come up for the competition, when we used to hold it in its’ former format they came up regularly.

“We were vey happy with the way the day went, we got quite a lot of new players who we managed to get a look at and play them in various positions just to see where they’ll fit in throughout the season.”

Page singled out a number of promising new players as ones to watch throughout the upcoming season as the Nomads look to fill the holes left by a number of players leaving the club or area during the off-season.

“A new player, Matt West, showed quite a bit and I think he’s going to be very handy for us this year, he played at centre halfback for most of the day,” Page said.

“Mitchell Penberthy, a player who is new to the club having come to us from Tamworth played well all day, as did our ruckman Anthony Reid.”

Reid in particular has big shoes to fill as the replacement for the Nomads’ star player Tom Hunt, who left Armidale earlier this year.

Page was confident that the Nomads can equip themselves well in the TAFL competition this year.

“It’s looking good,” he said.

“All the players performed well yesterday so we’re fairly confident that we should give a good account of ourselves.”

The TAFL season begins on Saturday, April 14.

The Nomads’ first round TAFL fixture looks to be against Gunnedah but that could be changed before the season commences.

“At this stage we’re playing Gunnedah at Gunnedah, but we’ve been told that the draw could be getting changed,” Page said.

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