THE New Norfolk Reserves have earned the right to challenge Lindisfarne in this week’s SFL Grand Final following a gutsy three-point win over Huonville Lions at North Hobart Oval last Saturday. After an even first half, the Eagles set up the win in the second half before holding on in the dying minutes of the last term in a close one from the fast-finishing Lions.
The Lions started the game well, entering their forward 50 on several occasions, eventually finding key forward Jamie Stanway who kicked truly for their first goal. This was followed by another on the run from his brother Jacob Stanway as the Lions jumped out to an early lead. The Eagles were under pressure early as the Lions surged forward once again, but a desperate smother off the boot from Tyler Purdon across half back created a turnover which found Corey Ransley who broke a strong Lions tackle and passed to key forward Rohan Heron who marked and booted the Eagles’ first major.
Match ups early in the contest had Lion’s defender Brody Penny on Eagle full forward Clint Curtain. Liam Bertrand picked up Eagle veteran Rohan Heron while Eagle full back Nathan Ford was on Jamie Stanway. Lions ruckman Nathaniel Mommers was pitted against Eagle Michael Murray. The Eagle onball crew of Jordan Eiszele, Andrew Minchin, Jack Hills, and Jake Foster lined up against Fabian Reeve, Patrick Wilcox, Tyler Clark, and Andrew Crowe early in the contest.
The Lions added another goal through forward Brayden Guy, but the Eagles answered from the next centre bounce with Curtain shooting out a quick pass to Corey Ransley for the Eagles second goal. Eagle defender Tyler Purdon was strong across half back with several effective clearances and Eagle rover Jack Hills was in everything and looks to be in great form. The Lions picked up a free kick late in the quarter and received two 50m penalties for an easy goal which gave them a 10-point lead at quarter time: Huonville 4.0 (24) to New Norfolk 2.2 (14).
Neither side could get on top in the second term, but the Eagles lifted their work rate with forward Rohan Heron bringing the footy to ground to Eagle small man Jack Hills who sharked to perfection snapping a goal from 30m out. Eagle young gun Rohan Thomason slammed another goal through the big sticks just moments later to see the Eagles take the lead by two points going into the main break. Half time scores: New Norfolk 4.4 (28) to Huonville 4.2 (26).
Both teams came out hard in the third term knowing that there was no tomorrow for the loser. Goals were hard to come by and the contest went up another notch with some fierce tackling and several heavy clashes. It took until the 11-minute mark of the term for a goal to be scored by Eagle full forward Clinton Curtain. This sparked the Eagles as they pushed forward once again with Rohan Heron passing to Jake King who in turn passed to Curtain for another major.
The Eagles were on a roll as the on-ball unit started to get on top of the Lions with Jack Hills leading the way in what was his best game of the season. Eagle youngster Caden Donaghy won the hard ball from two Lion opponents in front of the Cazaly Stand and found Heron who once again put the footy in Curtain’s hands for another goal which was his third for the quarter. This gave the Eagles a handy 21-point lead. The Lions could only add two behinds due to some great defensive play from the Eagle back line. Three quarter time scores: New Norfolk 7.7 (49) to Huonville 4.4 (28).
The Eagles extended their lead early in the final term with a Blair Wardlaw snap from 35m out which bounced over several players near the goal square to extend the margin to 27 points. The Lions answered with goals to Brayden Guy and Jamie Stanway as the Eagles held onto a 10-point lead at the 17-minute mark. The Lions surged forward once again with a costly miss by Jacob Stanway but followed up with another quick goal as the Eagles were holding onto a slender three-point lead with only 38 seconds on the clock. The Eagles just managed to hold on for a well deserved three-point win.
New Norfolk Reserves assistant coach Bradley Chaplin praised the team’s performance after the game. He reminded his charges that they deserve to compete for the flag as the squad belted out a rousing rendition of the club song surrounded by several senior players and supporters.
Jack Hills was on fire in a strong four quarter performance for the Eagles. Blair Wardlaw’s experience and skill was telling throughout the contest. Corey Ransley worked tirelessly in the ruck and up forward. Torne Tangata just shows us all how good he is every week with his ball winning ability, toughness and kicking skills. Tyler Purdon is an important cog in the Eagle backline and works well in tandem with Luke Browning. Rohan Thomason used his pace and shows no fear in backing his own ability to take the game on.
The Eagles have been consistent for most of the season and have been well served by several players who perform well week in and week out. It’s appropriate to mention a few unsung contributors who put in every week such as Lucas Harris, Matthew Jones, Hayden Bielleman, Michael Murray, Brett Hodge, Andrew Minchin, Jayden Fisher Cooley, Kyle Walker, and Jake Foster. They are well-led by captain Nathan Ford to complete a team effort.
This week’s Reserve Grand Final should be a great curtain-raiser to the senior Cygnet versus Huonville clash and even though the Lindisfarne Two Blues had a convincing win over the Eagles in their last encounter at Anzac Park a few weeks ago, the Eagles have welcomed back some key personnel into the side which should make it a great contest. It will be hard for the coaching panel at the selection table this week which is a good problem to have.
The club hopes to see as many of its loyal supporters as possible in attendance this weekend to support the Reserves team as they attempt to bring home another premiership trophy.
New Norfolk 8.9 (57)
Huonville 8.6 (54)
Best – New Norfolk: J. Hills, B. Wardlaw, T. Tangata, C. Ransley, R. Thomason, T. Purdon. Huonville: J. Stanway, C. Walker, P. Wilcox, L. O’Neill, B. Allie, A Crowe.
Goals – New Norfolk: C. Curtain 3, R. Heron, J. Hills, R. Thomason, K. Walker, C. Ransley. Huonville: J. Stanway 2, B. Guy 2, A. Grubb, P. Kelly, C. Stockfeld, C. Walker.
GRAND FINAL TICKETS – Saturday, September 18, at North Hobart Oval
Reserves – New Norfolk v Lindisfarne at noon
Tickets available https://www.trybooking.com/BUEDN
Crowd numbers have been set at 5000 and masks must be worn.