All tied up, Nomads women scratch up a draw against Suns

The weekend had the Nomad women hit the road to make the journey to the distant Northern outpost of Moree after a venue change. It was shaping up to be a typical miserable winters day at Bellevue (the spiritual home of football in Armidale), so Moree seemed like a tropical paradise in comparison. On the back of a tough loss the previous week we were looking for a scalp against the Suns. Travelling short on numbers with big outs, punters wouldn’t have listed us as favourites. We knew it could be a tough day in the office, but we back each other, and we back our system to get the job done. After a slow start we looked like we’d run away with a steal. The Suns were determined not to concede, and a draw ensued. The final score being 4.2.26 to 3.8.26.

Perhaps we were weary from the three-hour car ride to Moree but our start to the game left a little to be desired. We were incohesive and struggled to work as a team. We weren’t applying pressure at the contest and weren’t playing with intent. The Suns however weren’t missing a beat and were playing all over us earning themselves an early lead. Lucky for us their accuracy in front of the big sticks prevented them from kicking away. Our forward attacks were met with strong Suns defence and were quickly rebounded. Nothing was really going our way. We didn’t look like us and weren’t playing the brand of football we’ve come to expect of ourselves. It was going to make for a very long day and trip home if things continued this way.

We knew we weren’t playing to our standard of football and things had to change in the second term. To the credit of the girls, they did lift a few levels to get near to our best. The pressure increased and we looked like we wanted to be out there. Charlotte ‘The General’ Star was inspirational in defence making a handful of goal saving tackles. Bri Spratling was a strong body in the centre making sure Moree didn’t get any easy clearances. We began to string good plays together to enter our attacking 50. Kaitlyn Read in her debut was finding her feet in the centre, combining well with Bri, Ellah ‘ET’ Thompson and our ring-in ruckman El Capitán Ellie ‘Rhino’ Ryan. The reduced numbers on the field made the already wide Moree deck even more spacious. El Capitán Ellie ‘Rhino’ and Kaitlyn were making good use of the space, using their speed to give us some attacking run. Casey ‘I can kick goals’ Morris showed why she is a dangerous forward, winning a one on one to open our account with a goal. Despite a largely improved effort, Moree were still able to put the scoreboard pressure on pushing their lead to 17 points at half time.

The premiership quarter was our Achilles heel the week before. This week it was our saving grace. We came out of the half time break red hot. A quick centre clearance by Ellah ‘ET’ led to a quick forward entry and that set the tone for the remainder of the quarter. Our pressure and intensity were through the roof. We had completely constricted the play of the Suns. It was in our forward half for 100% of the quarter. We absolutely dominated. Charlotte ‘The General’ and Connie Blake were instrumental in ensuring the ball didn’t leave our forward line. The intercept marking and spring boarding that came from these two hallmarks of our defence was sensational. Local club legend Wulu ‘Choco’ Hall is a big believer in the one percenters and they were on show. We were shepherding, running to support our teammates, and communicating extremely well. We were switching the ball and taking the game on in an exciting display of Australian rules football. Casey ‘I can kick goals’ was lurking and with an opportunistic snap on the run added another major to her tally. Ellah ‘ET’ was also up and about dominating the contest and kicking her first goal of the season in a similar fashion. Minor scores from El Capitán Ellie ‘Rhino’ and Ash ‘Grasshopper’ Wright put us within three points at the three-quarter time break.

We had all the momentum heading into the final term and looked sure to come home with a win. The Suns sensed we were coming and lifted their game. It was to and fro for the initial part of the quarter as both teams scrambled to kick the next goal. Our moment came with a quick kick into our forward fifty from El Capitán Ellie ‘Rhino’ that gave Casey all she needed to kick her third goal and put us up by three points. The shorter quarters diplomatically negotiated (no threat of mutiny) prior to the game meant that another goal would likely seal it. The Suns sensed the urgency and threw the kitchen sink at the backline to regain the lead. Molly ‘Golden Fist’ Fraser was a cool head that steadied the ship many a time keeping the Suns to minor scores. To only conceded points is testimony to the determination and desperation of our girls not to lose when the game was on the line. Unfortunately, points are still scores and the Suns had managed to even it up to 26 apiece. Casey and Emma Gliddon were doing their best to get it forward to break the gridlock and steal the win. Emma was stringing together a particularly good game, winning the hard ball and playing with profound confidence in only her second game. Before we could get it forward in one last roll of the dice, the siren blew and with it a draw was recorded.

While it’s not a loss, it’s disappointing to have drawn especially considering we should have probably won. Result aside, the key take away from the game was the fight back in the second half. For the girls to bring themselves back into a game after being 17 points down is incredible. It speaks volumes about the resilience and heart of the girls. It shows they have pride in themselves, pride in their jumper and pride in each other. While it doesn’t give us the four points, it does give us belief. Belief that when we want something, we get it. That’s worth more than a win and the girls will be better for the experience.

Awards:
Player’s Player: Emma Gliddon
Captain’s Award: Casey Morris
Coach’s Award: Kaitlyn Read

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