Now, the season starts

By Matt Nicholls (Armidale Independent, 27/08/2014)
New England coach Zac Economou says the season starts now for his side, as the Nomads prepare for Saturday’s major semi-final.

The Armidale-based side finished the Tamworth AFL season with a 14-1 record and will do battle with Inverell for a grand final berth.

The Saints are the only side to have beaten New England, pipping the Nomads by three points in round 13.

“Now we’re into the serious stuff,” Economou said.

“It hasn’t been a long season, but it’s felt longer because we were always going to be in this position.

“I think both sides have been looking forward to this final.”

The winner of Saturday’s major semi-final goes through to the grand final, earning a week’s rest.
The loser will host the winner of Saturday’s elimination final between the Tamworth Kangaroos and Narrabri.

“I think that week off and earning a home grand final is important,” Economou said.

“We’ve got a few sore bodies that could do with a week off.”

Among them is captain Weston Whitby, who continues to bely his body and dominate matches.

“He’s a freak,” Economou said.

“He can’t run around, really. He’s got a bad knee, bad hamstrings and is just a sore guy.”

That didn’t stop Whitby from kicking five goals in the Nomads’ win agains the Roos on Saturday.

After Tamworth got the jump on New England, leading 3.4 to 2.2 at quarter-time, the Nomads hit back with a five-goal second term to take a 14-point lead into the main break.

From there, the home side kept up its momentum to win 15.13 (103) to 12.6 (78).

The Nomads will host an in-form Saints line-up this Saturday.

Inverell has won seven matches in a row and goes into the finals on the back of a commanding 147-point win against fourth-placed Narrabri.

Economou said the Nomads would have to stop the Saints’ midfield.

“They have some great ball winners in there and if we can get on top in the middle we’ll win the game,” he said.

“Guys like Luke Selig, Hayden Chappel and Hamish Bird can be dangerous.”

Inverell coach Nick Baird said his side would be at full strength on Saturday.

“The Nomads will be deserved favourites, but I think we’re a real chance,” he said.

“We’ll bring over a physical game and try to match them early.”

Baird said the Saints still remembered last year’s grand final, when the Nomads hammered them by 140 points.

“The game was over at quarter-time that day,” he said.

“We need to stay with them early and try and grind it out.”

Saturday’s match kicks off at 2pm at Bellevue Oval.

Not for reproduction except by permission of the Armidale Independent

Round 15 2014

Nomads def. Roos
 GBP GBP
Q12315 3422
HT7749 5535
Q3111177 7547
FT1513103 12678

Team:

  • C. Ballagh,
  • C. Barker,
  • V. Chakalisa,
  • D. Davies,
  • Z. Economou,
  • M. Folpp,
  • J. Frost,
  • C. Graham,
  • I. Graham,
  • W. Hall,
  • S. Hanks,
  • T. Hunt,
  • S. Maseko,
  • Z. Old,
  • D. Richards,
  • N. Sanders,
  • J. Shirley,
  • O. Temoso,
  • A. Walsh,
  • Z. Wells,
  • W. Whitby,
  • M. Woodward.

Goalscorers:

  • W. Whitby (5),
  • D. Richards (4),
  • Z. Economou (3),
  • V. Chakalisa (2),
  • I. Graham.

Award winners:

  • W. Hall (Players' Player),
  • Z. Wells (Coach's),
  • V. Chakalisa (President's),
  • T. Hunt (Captain's),
  • M. Woodward (Gleeson's).

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