Nomads’ major test

By Ben Lonergan (Armidale Express, 29/08/2014)
A new chapter will be written in the rivalry between the New England Nomads and Inverell Saints when the two sides meet in the Tamworth AFL major semi-final at Bellevue Oval tomorrow.

The winner will earn the hosting rights for the September 13 grand final, while the loser will host next weekend preliminary final and have a second chance of advancing to the decider.

The Nomads are gunning for a third successive premiership and that bid looked almost inevitable until they were knocked off by the Saints in Inverell earlier in August.

Since that loss they have again been in dominant form and come into tomorrow match on the back of a 103-78 win over the Tamworth Bulldogs last weekend.

Nomads’ player-coach Zac Economou said his players would be fired up for another crack at the Saints.

“It’s obviously the most important game of the year for both sides,” he said.

“The home ground advantage and a week off is what we both want.

“But we will be out for a bit of redemption after last time.

“We know we didn’t play well.”

Up until that loss to the Saints, the Nomads had gone undefeated through the first 12 matches of the season, but Economou said the loss was the best thing to happen to them all year.

“It was a huge wake up call,” he said.

“The boys were starting to think it was a walk in the park and that’s something we’ve addressed now.”

Winning the mid-field battle will be the key to beating the Saints and earning a home grand final according to Economou.

“Intensity is the big thing for us,” he said. “We need to make sure we get numbers to the ball and not let them get on top in the mid-field.

TAFL’s leading goal scorer for 2014, Dave Richards, is just of the key players Economou is expecting to step up tomorrow.

“The usual suspects: Tom Hunt, Dave Richards, Isaiah Graham and Weston Whitby,” he said.

“Those are the guys that can really turn a game.”

The match kicks off at 2pm tomorrow at Bellevue Oval and Economou is hoping for a big local contingent to get down to the ground and get them home.

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