The Boys Done Good! Nomads TAFL Premiers for 2012

After an eight year wait, the New England Nomads have won their fourth premiership in the TAFL competition, with a convincing 26 point victory over the Inverell Saints. It was made all the more remarkable by the fact that the Nomads have not won at Inverell since an infamous night game in 2006. Ultimately it was the quick legs and hand speed right across the ground that won it for the Tableland boys.

The Nomads arrived early (for once) to the ground on a 1970’s school bus loaned by the Wicklow and driven by Leigh Holmes. It was a beautiful day with a light breeze blowing from the west. The team ran through a Nomads banner made by Amy Cosby and Steph Cook during the week (a great piece of artistry if ever there was one) and then lined up for the National Anthem. Both teams observed a minute’s silence for the recently fallen Australian soldiers in Afghanistan. Then it was on.

The first ten minutes were incredibly frenetic with Inverell getting the initial clearances, but all were repelled by the Nomads back line. It was clear that part of the Saints plan was to stymie the movement of Weston Whitby and Dave Graan and they received a lot of early attention. The Nomads scored the first two goals but then the Saints struck back with two of their own. The work of the back line, in particular of Rowdy Ballagh, Zac Economou and Tom Granleese, was excellent, frustrating the Saints time after time. And by the end of the quarter Jon Freund and Davey Graan were dominating the centre clearances. At the first change the Nomads were five points ahead.

The second quarter saw the Nomads kicking to the northerly end, which had a slight wind advantage. The Nomads kicked five goals to the Saints four. Shaun Cusack was causing the Saints trouble in this quarter with his strong marking and body work and providing many opportunities for the small forwards, such as the D-Mod and Ash Cruickshank, who were taking full advantage of the ball they were being given. Some uncharacteristic lapses in the back line, with everyone-up-and-no-one-down, allowed the Saints to pick up a couple of roving goals, but on the whole the back line was strong. The Saints’ forwards were clearly not used to the kind of pressure they were being put under. So at half time the Nomads were 12 points ahead.

The third quarter saw the Saints throw themselves at the ball in the way to which we are accustomed and it paid off for a while. They managed four goals to the Nomads two and at the final change there was only one point the difference.

It looked then like the final quarter was going to be a cliff-hanger. However, Jon Freund, the D-Mod and Weston Whitby had very different ideas about the grand final story line. Marni-Modra kicked two very quick goals, running across the packs, followed by a brilliant 40 metre running goal from Jon Freund before Weston finished off the proceeding with a thoughtful steady goal from the point of the square. Paddy Tobias and Hughie Cook were brilliant in the back line (one particularly memorable moment was Hughies’ high mark when he drifted across the front of the pack, rather like Tom Harkley in days of yore). With five minutes to go it was clear that the Saints were spent. The Nomads crowd, which had been incredibly vocal all day, counted down the last ten seconds on the electronic scoreboard and then it was over. Dave Graan was voted best on ground, winning the Graham Nuttall medal. A very well-deserved honour, though it must have been a hard job choosing between him, Freundy and Weston. Then it was onto the bus for multiple renditions of the Nomads victory song, before every one was able to settle down for some quiet time, celebrating in the time honoured way with some bedtime stories from Uncle Brendo.

Where was the game won? In the last quarter the Nomads’ run destroyed the Saints. But a very decisive factor was simply the depth of talent across the field: those running the bench had an enormous range of options.

While it was obviously a team effort, some players nonetheless deserve a special mention. Zac Economou, the ‘late inclusion’, was a rock at centre half back. Coach Granleese did an excellent job on their large forward Gobbert. Tom was smart enough not to body-up with him, but instead drifted off and focused on punching rather than out-marking Gobbert. Riley Connor, who has been the real surprise packet of the year, ran rings around their wingmen. Jon Freund, who was let run free in the centre, drove the ball forward time and time again and Davey Graan was at the bottom of every pack . Benji Julien again did an excellent job in his role as small running back man. Dave Richards lived up to his new media tag of the ‘Wizard of the TAFL’, destroying the Saints hopes in the last quarter. And finally Weston—who along with Starry is the only remaining member of the 2006 grand final side— worked and worked all day to ensure that THIS one didn’t get away.

Thanks to all the supporters who travelled to Inverell. Special thanks to the support staff without whom this would not have been possible. Here I have in mind, Amy Cosby, Brendan Meehan, Ben Page, Leigh Holmes, Carl Holschier, Dave Dunlop, David “Yeeeeeah” Bioletti, Grant Wagstaff, Gray Malone, Adam Parish, Jabez Tilto and Kaine Rowlings. (I hope that i have not left anyone out.) A number of players were unlucky to miss out on the final 22. A premiership isn’t just won on grand final day: so, to those players, this is your victory just as much as those who were on the field.

Here’s to the team of 2012!!! The cup is finally home where it belongs.

Grand Final Result

Saints def. by Nomads
Q12315 3220
HT6642 8654
Q310868 10969
FT11975 1511101


  • C. Ballagh,
  • V. Chakalisa,
  • R. Connor,
  • H. Cook,
  • A. Cruickshank,
  • S. Cusack,
  • C. Dobos,
  • Z. Economou,
  • G. Elson,
  • J. Freund,
  • J. Frost,
  • D. Graan,
  • T. Granleese,
  • B. Julien,
  • N. Lambie,
  • L. McLeod,
  • D. Richards,
  • S. Stubbs,
  • P. Tobias,
  • A. Walsh,
  • W. Whitby,
  • M. Woodward.


  • D. Richards (4),
  • W. Whitby (3),
  • S. Cusack (2),
  • A. Cruickshank,
  • C. Dobos,
  • D. Graan,
  • J. Freund,
  • R. Connor,
  • V. Chakalisa.

Award winners:

  • D. Graan (Graham Nuttall Trophy),
  • Z. Economou (Coach's),
  • D. Richards (President's),
  • W. Whitby (Captain's),
  • J. Freund (VC's),
  • R. Connor (Red Rooster).

4 Responses to “The Boys Done Good! Nomads TAFL Premiers for 2012”

  1. Nick Schultz Says:

    Great stuff Nomads, you damn heroes – and great article.

  2. Brendo Says:

    Nomads you champions. Looking forward to seeing you all at the presentation night.

    Congratulations to all.


  3. Gra Matticus Says:

    I thought the boys did well!!!

  4. Eddie Bugg Says:

    Well done Nomads. Another one in the bag.

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