NEW England Nomads kicked their way to a home grand final while Inverell Saints kept their season alive as the Tamworth AFL competition bounced into finals mode on Saturday.
The Nomads were too strong for the Tamworth Kangaroos in the major semi-final, powering to a 17.16 118 to 10.10 70 win at Bellevue Oval to book first spot in the decider.
The Roos will have to fight it out against the Saints next week for the other spot after the Inverell side overcame some issues with their radar to beat the Narrabri Eagles 12.22 94 to 7.9 51 in the minor semi-final at Varley Oval.
“We kicked very poorly but we won,” Saints captain Nick Baird said.
The 22 behinds tell that story.
“It was pretty tight all day. Probably in the end the scoreline flattered us,” Baird said.
“The last quarter we managed to get a roll-on.
“There was only about three goals in it.”
They led by 20, after steadily building their lead from just seven at the first break.
Ryan Woolley and Lachlan McDonald were the only multiple goalscorers for them, with Woolley kicking five and McDonald two.
Baird, Russell Brien, Chris Schneider, Luke Selig and coach Hayden Chappel all registered one major.
The latter two really drove their attack and were brilliant in the midfield.
“They were our best,” Baird said.
“They gave us some really good drive forward.”
“But we were quite wasteful of the opportunities we had,” he said.
As well as being wayward off the boot, the ball also came back out of their forward 50 too easily.
“We were very haphazard and a bit messy skill-wise,” Baird said.
“The forwards were doing the work but we weren’t hitting them.”
“And once the ball hit the ground, Narrabri were fantastic at switching the play.”
Stewart Todd, coach Todd Dunn and Michael Miskle each kicked two for the Eagles, who had their own finishing issues.
“We controlled a lot of the game in the first quarter,” Dunn said.
“We had the ascendancy. We just couldn’t finish.”
The threat was the Saints’ midfield and that was where they probably got on top of them.
Dunn thought Andrew Weymer in the ruck, Bailey Clarke at centre half back and Zac Lauristen at centre forward were their best, but said everyone chipped in and had a go.
“We were just beaten by a better side on the day,” he said.
It has still been a good season for them.
“We’ve got plenty of positives out of the year,” he said.
“For a lot of the guys it’s only their second season.
“We’ve improved a lot from last year.”
Up in Armidale, the Nomads set the win up in the first half, kicking 11 goals to lead by 48 at the main break.
Jed Ellis-Cluff led the way for them, booting four, while Dave Richards and Matthew Foley chipped in with three and coach Zac Economou two.