Arctic blast hits AFL

Dave Richards showed his class in trying conditions.

Dave Richards showed his class in trying conditions.

By Matt Nicholls (Armidale Independent, 03/07/2014)
New England survived the arctic conditions and a fired-up Inverell to snatch a narrow five-point victory in the Tamworth AFL competition on Saturday.


The Saints led all game and by as much as five goals in the third quarter, but the undefeated Nomads clawed their way back to grind out a win.


”It was one of the best games I’ve been involved with,” New England coach Zac Economou said.


”It was definitely the wildest weather I’ve played footy in.”


Not only was the apparent temperature nearing minus 10 degrees, but sleeting rain was lashing the players at an almost-horizontal angle.


Then came the lightning late in the contest.


But the home side didn’t let the weather deter them as they produced a gutsy performance to overrun the Saints.


Inverell led by 15 points at half-time and kicked the first two goals of the third term to hold a handy buffer, but the Nomads responded late in the quarter to get back within five points heading into the final break.


New England scrambled two goals to take the lead, but the Saints pressed hard for the majority of the quarter.


”The ball was in their half of the ground for most of the last quarter,” Economou said.


”With the wind it was so hard to move the ball from one end of the ground to the other.”


But despite their territorial advantage, the Saints were unable to find a goal in the final stanza, finishing the quarter with three behinds to lose 9.7 (61) to 7.14 (56).


Economou, who had just spent two weeks in 35-degree heat in Alabama, said his side should feel proud following the win.


”We still have about 10 blokes away because of university holidays,” he said.


”But I always say you can get a feel for how we are strong when we don’t have our university players.”


The playing coach, who was a rock in defence, said half-forward Dave Richards was his side’s best.


”He really adapted well to the wet weather footy,” Economou said.


”His skills stood out on a tough day and he kicked three important goals.”


Down at full-forward, Matt Folpp made the most of limited opportunites with four goals, while skipper Weston Whitby stood up late in the game to put his side in front.


Economou also praised defenders Tom Granleese, Clint Ballagh and Tom Walsh for their stoic performance down back.


”Inverell’s strength is their midfield, so our defenders were under pressure a fair bit,” he said.


”I thought there were a few guys that really stood up.”


The Nomads now boast an 8-0 record and are two games clear of Inverell at the top of the TAFL ladder.


All sides enjoy a week off, with the competition fixturing a general bye, while the Nomads are at home to Gunnedah when play resumes on 12 July.

Not for reproduction except by permission of the Armidale Independent

Round 8 2014

Nomads def. Saints
 GBP GBP
Q12315 2416
HT3321 5636
Q37648 71153
FT9761 71456

Team:

  • C. Ballagh,
  • C. Barker,
  • V. Chakalisa,
  • T. Dickson,
  • Z. Economou,
  • G. Elson,
  • M. Folpp,
  • J. Frost,
  • C. Graham,
  • I. Graham,
  • T. Granleese,
  • S. Hanks,
  • S. Maseko,
  • D. Richards,
  • J. Shirley,
  • M. Shirley,
  • M. Spencer,
  • O. Temoso,
  • A. Walsh,
  • T. Walsh,
  • W. Whitby,
  • M. Woodward.

Goalscorers:

  • M. Folpp (4),
  • D. Richards (3),
  • S. Maseko,
  • W. Whitby.

Award winners:

  • D. Richards (Players' Player),
  • T. Walsh (Coach's),
  • V. Chakalisa (President's),
  • C. Ballagh (Captain's),
  • J. Frost (Gleeson's).

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