Biggest test yet

By Matt Nicholls (Armidale Express, 09/07/2010)
New England Nomads face their biggest challenge of the season tomorrow.

On the back of four successive wins, the Armidale-based side will travel to Inverell to take on the Tamworth AFL ladder leaders.

The home side will be the hot favourites, but Nomads coach Brendan Meehan is quietly confident about his team’s chances.

“It’s our toughest game of the season but there’s so much incentive for us to win,” he said.

“If we beat them we give ourselves a great chance to break into the top two and really give us a chance at winning the premiership.”

New England will go into the game without a number of key players, but Meehan believes he had the personnel capable of an upset.

“The guys who will play are certainly good enough to beat Inverell,” he said.

“It’s all about confidence, belief and sticking to the game plan.”

Paddy Tobias, Joseph Harland, Anthony Reid and Ben Page will all miss tomorrow’s clash.

However, the Nomads are boosted by the return of star midfielder Hamish Pearce and veteran defender Adrian Walsh.

Not unlike World Cup finalists Germany and the Netherlands, Meehan said his side must play a possession-type game to defeat the Saints.

“We are a much better side once we get a mark or a free kick and keep control of the ball,” he said.

“If we get sucked into playing this stoppage game and trying to run with Inverell all the time then they’ll beat us.

“I thought we played brilliantly last week (against Muswellbrook) and if we repeat that effort we’ll be hard to stop against the Saints.”

Key forward Weston Whitby, who booted 11 goals against the Cats last week, will again be relied upon up forward.

Meanwhile, defenders Clint Ballagh and Nick Schultz will have the job of stopping Inverell sharpshooters Mick Viney and Chris Whitton.

Further up the ground, the likes of Corey Wheeler, Joe Kimmince and Justin Pay must be nullified if the Nomads are to cause a boilover.

Last time these two sides met, back on May 15, Inverell kicked 11 goals to three in the second half to beat New England by 62 points at Bellevue Oval.

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