Nomads Women fall short in final quarter in loss to Swans

Due to recent rain events, there was a mass exodus of football from Tamworth. This meant football was to be played at the spiritual home of football in Armidale, Bellevue oval. While conditions were dry, the gale force winds were going to be difficult to contend with. Over the past few weeks, we’d been in some really tight games. The weekends match against the Swans was to be no exception. It was a very evenly matched game in terms of the contest. However, after leading at every break, we went down by less than two goals in another devastating loss. The final scores being 2.7.19 to 3.10.28.

We started the game exactly as we wanted to. We were applying immense tackling pressure, playing for each other, and playing with intent. We were kicking with the wind which favoured the non-traditional Uralla end, which was described by onlookers as a likely three goal wind. With the wind on our side, we gave ourselves five scoring opportunities to the Swans two. However, we only managed to kick one major through our ever gallant Madi Moar. It was eerily similar to the 60-80 meter goal she kicked in our previous encounter with the Swans. Our inability to convert forward entries into major scores has been an element of our game we just haven’t quite perfected. The wind likely played into our accuracy issues to some extent, it was just lucky for us the Swans couldn’t put it through the two big ones. Despite our scoring woes, we had put together a very solid quarter and given ourselves momentum heading into the second.

We knew scoring to the Uralla end would be treacherous, so we needed a strong defensive effort to hold the Swans out. The Swans looked to capitalise on the breeze and made a conscious effort to keep it in their forward fifty. Our backline held strong as they do week in week out to keep the swans to one goal. Caiti D’Gluyas had big shoes to fill with Molly ‘Golden Fist’ Fraser a big out. Caiti has had to step up in previous games and she did so again on this occasion. She did a terrific job of rebounding the Swans advances as our last line of defence. Supported by Charlotte ‘The General’ Star, Connie Blake, Soph Hadwen and Ash ‘Grasshopper’ Wright, the girls did everything they could to not let the dam wall break. Charlotte was making many goal saving tackles and taking strong intercept marks. Down the other end things were expectedly quiet. We had managed to get the ball down to our forwards but just struggled to keep it in there long enough. However, in a turn of fate, a fifty-metre penalty given to Bri Spratling put us directly in front. Having practiced kicking goals from that very spot at training, she wasn’t going to miss. Bri’s goal gave us a much needed break on the scoreboard and pushed the lead out that little bit further just before half time.

We had a slim 6-point lead heading into the third term. To set ourselves up for a victory, it was key that we make the most of the wind and widen the margin. El Capitán Ellie ‘Rhino’ Ryan who was again playing well in the ruck, was giving the likes of Ellah ‘ET’ Thompson, Kaitlyn Read and Madi first use. We had repeat entries however the Swans defence was formidable, rebounding and expertly finding outlets on their back fifty. Despite admirable attempts from Casey ‘I can kick goals’ Morris and Emma ‘Fast and loose’ Gliddon to take hangers and kick snags, we only managed a handful of minor scores. While they weren’t the goals we needed, they pushed the margin out further nonetheless. Brilliant pressure acts from our mids and forwards forced turnovers close to home and prevented any scores from the tourists. An ankle injury to our glorious leader, El Capitán Ellie late in the quarter was a blow to morale and our midfield. We had done the hard work for three quarters, we just need to hold on for another 20 minutes and the game would be ours.

Heading into the final quarter, we had led at every break and had a handy 9-point lead. Was it enough to buffer the Swans having the wind at their backs for the final term? The Roos had come back from 15 points down to snatch a win from us two weeks before. We couldn’t let it happen again. The Swans sensing their pride was on the line made a resounding attempt to steal the win from our clutches. We fought bravely to not concede. We desperately tried to set up link up plays to give our forwards a crack. El Capitán Ellie with a strapped-up ankle, channelled Dermott Brereton in the ’89 grand final and played on switching with Connie into the forwards. Connie did a great job rucking, stepping up when her team really needed her. The wind heading to the Uralla end did nothing to aid us and we didn’t manage a score of any sort for the remainder of the game. For the first part of the quarter, we only allowed minor scores but a goal out of the pack gave the Swans the sniff they needed. They could sense blood in the water. Suddenly our lead wasn’t as comfortable, and we had a game on our hands. An unlucky bounce of the ball resulted in another goal for the surging Swans and the writing on the wall became clear. In the context of the game, it was going to be near impossible to snag a win now.

The weekends loss adds another tight result to our 2021 campaign. It seems that over the past few weeks we haven’t been able to take our chances during big moments to be able to get across the line. Realistically, we should have three wins on the trot especially considering we’ve lost by an average of only 8 points. Another tough loss brings another tough lesson. We must learn to pick our moments to seal games. We’ve shown that we can match it with the better teams in the league. We’ve shown that we can execute a game plan and stick to it. We just lack the final polish and desire that wins games. This isn’t to say we haven’t played good football, on the contrary. There are always good things we can take out of our games. The last few weeks have just served as good learning curves for our young squad and the hurt shown in the sheds shows it means something. We’ll be better for the experience and eventually something will click and we won’t lose.

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