Another huge week for New England AFL

Dave MacLellan
Running out on a cold Armidale day, following another large Auskick crowd, the New England Nomads defeated the Tamworth Swans last Saturday. The match was a constant struggle and would have been especially sapping for the midfielders. Dylan McGrath returned from a back injury and joined with Nomads Captain Glen Northway to provide some of the forward potency that was missing following Weston Whitby’s injury withdrawal. Matthew Maxwell’s dream of progressing towards a permanent back pocket role was shattered after being returned to the midfield in the opening quarter. The final siren was welcome as for the second time in the space of a month the Nomads defeated the Tamworth Swans, this time by twenty points.

Sunday morning saw an under 16s game at Bellevue as a junior Nomads/TAS team hosted a Sawtell Saints outfit. Thursday’s under 14s game at Bellevue was welcomed by a tropical monsoon as Duval easily accounted for TAS for the first time this season. During the first half deluge, visibility was limited and Duval dominated the undersized and outnumbered TAS 6-6-42 to 1-0-6. After the change, the TAS backline pressured the Duval forwards, who scored 2 goals and 8 behinds. Duval walked away drenched but victorious, 62-12. The improvement over the three games thus far has been miraculous and next week Duval will play the as yet unseen Armidale High team.

Finally to cap off a big week of local AFL, Saturday’s big clash will see the Muswellbrook Cats host the New England Nomads at Werriman Field. The game will be season defining for both the clubs, who have not met this season due to a forfeit by the Cats. The Cats will be seeking their first scalp on the field, aiming for a stronger second half of the season to give them momentum towards 2009. The Nomads meanwhile will be severely tested as Tyrone Dimer, Jonathon Frost, Reece Whitby and Weston Whitby will be away due to a family bereavement, also missing will be Josh Keogh, Rich Malone and Ed Nixon. History is stacked against the Nomads for their first trip to Muswellbrook for the year, as they lost all games in Muswellbrook in both 2006 and 2007. This is a long streak as from this weekend’s lineup only five players survive from 2005 (Crump, McGrath, MacLellan, Page and Walsh). A win for the Nomads will cement third spot on the ladder, close the gap on either the Kangaroos or Saints, who play each other and finally give the side some momentum towards another holiday break.

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