NEW Norfolk will face last year’s SFL premiers in a first semi-final match at Boyer Oval this Saturday after going down to Cygnet in the qualifying final at the weekend. The Eagles were gallant in defeat in front of a good crowd at Cygnet’s home ground on Saturday, going down by 17 points.
Coach Josh Clifford addressed his players after the game and even though there was disappointment in the loss there were many positives to be taken out of the game as the Eagles had continued to pressure The Port, which kept the visitors in the game over four quarters.
The Port’s overall size and height advantage in key positions all over the ground gave the home side the edge in the air, with ruck duo Reece Schuth and Jordan Lane along with key forwards Josh Fox and Mitch Direen having a big impact on the game.
The match started with The Port winning the toss and kicking with a 2-3 goal breeze. In-form key backman Josh Farrow lined up on goal-kicking machine Josh Fox, while big eagle James Shearing matched-up on Cygnet centre-half-forward Jordan Lane. James Zeitzen lined-up on high-flying Eagle Tyron Rainbird and Ethan Lovell had the job on New Norfolk coach Clifford in the forward pocket.
At the centre bounces, ruckman Ben Lovell was up against Reece Schuth, while Eagle onballers Jacob Wigg, Nathan Eiszele and Josh Hills were pitted against The Port’s Thor Boscott, playing coach Ben Cato and Rhys Jennings, but there were a number of rotations in the engine room throughout the afternoon.
The Port jumped out of the blocks early with goals to Brad McDermott, Fox and the fast-running Jayden Appleby, but the Eagles answered with a Josh Hills pass to Clifford for a goal on the run to the visitors. The Port continued to enter their forward 50m a number of times but the Eagle backline was holding up well with Cody Morgan giving some great rebound from the half-back line along with Rohan Heron and James Shearing holding their own against The Port’s talls.
Fox goaled at the 19-minute mark but Eagle Jacob Daley found full-forward Marcus Parker and he kicked the Eagles’ second. The Port managed to clear from the centre bounce to once again find Fox as he kicked his third for the quarter just before the siren. The quarter-time score read Cygnet 5.2 (32) to New Norfolk 2.3 (15).
The expected rain arrived in the second term, which made conditions more difficult as both sides struggled to maintain clean possession of the ball with neither side breaking clear to spot up their respective key forward targets.
The Eagles’ Parker was first to kick a major in the second term but The Port answered through Luke Paton straight after, for their only goal for the quarter. Dangerous in-form forward Bryan Chaplin came off early in second term with a serious lower-leg injury which was a major blow for the Eagles. The Eagles missed their opportunity with the wind in the quarter to draw closer on the scoreboard as The Port held on to a 14-point lead. Port 6.7 (43) to the Eagles’ 4.5 (29).
The all-important third term belonged to the home side as it gained the upper hand in the congestion with many packs forming and a number of players around the ball. The Port managed to find a loose man on the outside on a number of occasions to get some flow into their game which resulted in goals to Toby Cowen, Fox, Rhys Jennings and Appleby, but the Eagles hung in with Parker kicking two majors for the term.
Cygnet vice-captain Jackson Gordon was instrumental in many passages of play for the home side. Big Eagle backman Shearing was in everything across half-back and Farrow was on top of The Port’s full-forward Fox who had only registered one major since quarter time, but his team had jumped out to a 27-point lead at three-quarter time. Cygnet 10.9 (69) to New Norfolk 6.6 (42).
The last term saw the tenacious Eagles hit back, and after an early miss from Tyron Rainbird, goals to Jacob Daley and Jordan Banks-Smith, and a great goal on the run from 40m out from Eagles running-machine Jye Bearman, all helped pull back the margin with The Port running out winners by 17 points.
Eagles veteran Heron was solid all day at half-back, Torne Tangata ran in a straight line as he usually does at the ball and never gives an inch, and Farrow played a sensational game on Fox. Eagles recruits Shearing, Jamie Sokolski and Rhys Heald played well throughout the game as they have for most of the season and have really fitted in well for the Eagles. Ben Lovell once again put in a solid four-quarter effort.
The Eagles will now face the Lindisfarne Two Blues in a first semi-final at Boyer this Saturday, with everything on the line. Both sides are capable of going another step and causing an upset over Huonville or Cygnet and will be keen to continue their push for the 2020 flag.
The Two Blues had a slow start to the season but have hit form at the right time, while the Eagles have had a great season and would be keen to reverse the earlier result when they faced the Two Blues a few weeks ago.
Come see the stars, Eagles captain Jacob Wigg, power forward Marcus Parker, high-flyer Tyron Rainbird, the ever-reliable Ben Lovell, the skill and dash of the Bearman brothers, and star backman Josh Farrow go up against Lindisfarne goal-kicking ace Michael Cassidy, talented midfielder Jack Gleeson, defender Ryan Edmunson and the hard-running Josh Young. It should be a cracker… go Eagles!
Cygnet 5.2 6.7 10.9 11.14 (80)
New Norfolk 2.3 4.5 6.6 9.9 (63)
GOALS – New Norfolk: M. Parker 3, J. Bearman 2, J. Clifford, J. Daley, T. Rainbird, J. Banks-Smith; Cygnet: J. Fox 4, J. Appleby 2, T. Cowen, J. Lane, B. Mc Dermot, R. Jennings, L. Paton.
BEST – New Norfolk: J. Farrow, R. Heron, J. Sokolski, J Bearman, J. Wigg, N. Eiszele; Cygnet: J. Gordon, R. Jennings, L. Paton, J. Zeitzen, J. Burnett, R. Schuth.