Nomads women dealt a narrow loss by a resurgent Roos

Football was again being played at the spiritual home of football in Armidale, Bellevue oval-albeit under the usual guise of COVID19 precautions. Our girls had been defeated convincingly the previous week by the Gunnedah Poochettes and so looked to make amends against the Roos. The Roos had bested us in our last two encounters by less than two goals. We made it our mantra that we wouldn’t lose this week. The only option is a win. We had the strongest team that we’d put up all year that even consisted of a bench (Bench: noun, substitute players, the act of having substitute players). Although in a heartbreaking turn of events, the football gods had other plans and we went down 2.3.15 to 3.5.23.

We had said it all week that we’d need to start hard and fast. The Roos had caught us off guard the last two times and had made us play catch up. We were resolved not to let this happen again. We had a clear game plan. Rucking sensation Lauren ‘Brodie Grundy’ Nest was again dominant in the ruck. Our aptly named ‘midfield of dreams’ was again doing what they do best, generating drive and attack. We were stringing some good plays together, but we were still scrambling. Perceived pressure was a factor as we struggled to control the tempo. The backline, lead by our gallant Charlotte ‘The General’ Star and Molly ‘Golden Fist’ Fraser kept the Roos scoreless for the first quarter. We were setting up well behind the ball with Ash Wright and Connie Blake rebounding any attempts the Roos made to go forward. Rampaging Molly Martin opened our account with a beautiful set shot to score our first major. Unfortunately, we failed to convert our other forward entries into scores to really put the pressure on the Roos.

Heading into the second term we could not afford to take the foot off. We needed to keep the scoring pressure up. We had a modest start to the game, but we could go another level. Madi ‘The Bull’ Moar, El Capitán Ellie ‘Rhino’ Ryan and Ellah ‘ET’ Thompson were doing plenty of grunt work around the ground to keep our momentum going. Penny Walsh and Casey ‘I sometimes kick goals, sometimes points’ Morris were performing their roles well, leading up the ground and getting the ball into Molly at full forward. We were still playing all over our opposition who were struggling to get into the game. Ash ‘The Grasshopper’ Wright, a backline fledgling continued her form from the previous week. Not phased by the cold weather, she was tackling girls twice her size and had a genuine hunger to win the ball. Clare Harpley in her first game of Australian Rules, was doing all the right things down back and looked a natural player. After being unsure of herself heading into the game, another debutante Emma Gliddon was playing a solid game out of the forward pocket. Even managing to score her first goal after reading it best out of the pack and kicking true. Another gusty effort from the backline had prevented the Roos hitting the scoreboard and given us a very handy half time lead.

In the third quarter, things took a turn from which we are yet to recover. We knew we couldn’t go to sleep now. We had done the hard work to put ourselves in a winnable position, we couldn’t throw it away now. Its hard to say exactly what it was, complacency, a resurgent effort from the Roos or the football gods putting us through some character building, but we looked flat. The Roo girls were up and about, they needed to make amends after their lacklustre first half. Our pressure around the contest dropped off. We were missing tackles. We were dropping easy marks. Any entries we made into our forward 50 were quickly rebounded out as we struggled to take marks and apply forward pressure. Some unlucky free kicks gave the Roos some easy shots on goal which they made the most of. Very quickly we had lost our lead and now we had a game on our hands. From the sideline it was like watching a car crash happen. Perhaps this is an overstatement but that’s what it felt like. It was hard to take good things out of it.

Morale was low heading into the break. We did exactly what we knew we couldn’t afford to do. However, the fat lady had not begun to sing yet. We still had a quarter to come home with a win. Everyone needed to lift, or we could very easily be walking away second best. Full credit to the girls when the game was on the line we stepped up and did everything we could. The contest tightened up. Great defensive efforts from our mids, Abbey O’Neill and Mon ‘The Goanna’ McRae through the centre of the ground prevented the Roos moving the ball quick. Despite great play coming out of our back fifty and through the ground, we just couldn’t get a mark in our forward fifty as the Roos desperately tried to prevent a score. Due to the desperation shown by both teams, scoring was a rarity. The next goal was going to win the game. Unfortunately, it didn’t come for us. The Roos kicked a rushed one from about 30 metres out that dribbled through for a goal. That more or less sealed it. We didn’t give in though. The great Leigh ‘Lethal’ Mathews says that if you need less goals than you have minutes left, you’re in good shape. Knowing time wasn’t on our side and needing two goals to win it seemed a bridge too far. We tried to play on quickly and take the game on, but it wasn’t to be.

Football can be a cruel mistress at times. Things can change very quickly and the result at the finish line can be snuffed away in an instant. Games can be won and lost in the third quarter, hence why it is regarded in football folklore as the premiership quarter. Our lapse in the third ultimately cost us. While the result is heartbreaking and disappointing, what would be more tragic is if we didn’t learn from our mistake and use it to improve. We can never get complacent and go through the motions. We must combine a consistent four quarter effort to win matches. We are a resilient bunch (you have to be when most weeks we get beat and play short), we will grow from this and ensure we don’t faulter again.

Awards:
Player’s Player: Charlotte Star
Captain’s Award: Clare Harpley
Coach’s Award: Emma Gliddon

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