New Norfolk football senior game report

Eagles outclassed by Cygnet in SFL season opener

By WAYNE WALKER
THE New Norfolk Eagles took a long trip down the Southern Outlet on Saturday, faced with the tough task of taking on last year’s reigning SFL premier Cygnet in the 2024 season opener. The early signs were positive for the home team as they controlled the ball, finding the loose man with time and space which continued throughout the four quarters to go on to record a convincing 104-point victory.

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Port controlled the aerial duels, racking up many uncontested marks, working the ball forward and giving big Joe Direen plenty of supply (six goals) along with Jesse Cowan (three goals) and Noah Clifford (three goals) while onballers Lachlan Watt and Mitchell Lister were clear winners from centre clearance and around the ground.

The Eagles welcomed the return of big ruckman Ashley Burgess along with tough and skillful onballer Jake Bearman and newcomer ruckman/forward Hayden Moss along with new playing coach Dylan Ford.

Key matchups at the opening bounce had giant Port ruckman Will Polley facing off against Eagle big man Moss. Eagle midfielders Bearman, Ford and Josh Clifford lined up against Port captain Watt, Lister and Clifford. Big Eagle Brayden Drake started at centre half forward with Port back man Ryan Clark, and the Eagles’ Burgess lined up at full forward picked up by Port tall Luke Ashlin.

Cygnet opened the first quarter with precise, short field kicking to a team mate leading into space giving the player in possession many targets which had the Eagles chasing tails for most of the match. Early goals to Joe Direen and Jake Dance gave the home side a 14-point lead at the 10-minute mark but the Eagles opened their account with a great passage of play through Drake finding busy onballer Bearman who passed to Mitch Hay to boot the Eagles’ first major. Port continued to chip kick the ball around the sun-soaked Cygnet Oval to go in at quarter-time with a 17-point lead. Quarter-time scores were Cygnet 3.6 (24) to New Norfolk 1.1 (7).

Cygnet continued to apply pressure to the Eagles with their slick ball movement in the second term and broke the game open scoring seven goals to the visitors’ one. Port’s clever small forward Dance chimed in with two quick goals followed by another to Direen as the home side jumped out to a 30-point lead. In the next passage of play Eagle young gun Mitch Hay found Will Banks at the true centre-half-forward position, booting the Eagles’ second goal. Port clicked into another gear and showed why they were last year’s premiers, rattling on the next five goals for a commanding 56-point lead at the main break. Eagle captain Josh Farrow was in every contest on the backline, turning back a number of Port’s forward entries, and Bearman was a standout for the Eagles gathering many touches in what was a tough first half for New Norfolk. Half-time scores: Cygnet 10.9 9 (69) to New Norfolk 2.1 (13).

The Eagles continued to struggle in the third term as Port added another four goals for the quarter while the Eagles managed one through Jake Campbell. Eagle youngster Ryan Bartels did some clever things in the quarter and showed he has the potential to keep a senior position in coming weeks. Port continued to run to open spaces and chip the ball around on their home deck, quite often going wide to the wings to enter into their forward 50 zone. The Eagles had problems at this stage of the match with Banks, Bearman and Burgess on the bench with injuries which made the task harder for the visiting side. Three-quarter-time scores; Cygnet 14.14 (98) to New Norfolk 3.4 (22).

The last quarter was a copy of the third term as Port booted another five majors while Ford kicked the Eagles’ fourth. Port had more class by foot and handled the ball much better than the young Eagles over the four quarters but it may have been a valuable lesson according to new coach Dylan Ford in his post-match address to his players. Ford said it may take a few weeks for the side to show what could be possible for season 2024. The Eagles have a bit up their sleeves with some key players to come into the senior squad in the coming weeks and while it was a heavy defeat the coach was optimistic about the future.

The Eagles were well served by captain Josh Farrow in defence. Jake Bearman played a tough hard-fought game and was explosive with his pace. Josh Clifford and coach Dylan Ford showed their experience and performed well. Mitchell Hay was busy all day and newcomer Hayden Moss battled hard throughout the contest.

The Eagles will be at home on the big Boyer Oval this Saturday to take on the Dodges Ferry Sharks to try to notch up their first win. Be there to support the boys. Go Eagles!

Final scores
Cygnet 19.18 (132)
New Norfolk 4.4 (28)
Best – New Norfolk:
J. Farrow, Jake Bearman, J. Clifford, D. Ford, H. Moss, M. Hay; Cygnet: W. Cleeland, T. Clark, J. Simpson, J. Walter, J. Direen, N. Clifford.
Goals – New Norfolk: D. Ford, J. Campbell, M. Hay, W. Banks; Cygnet: J. Direen 6, N. Clifford 3, J. Dance 2, J. Cowen 2, M. Fletcher 2, M. Lister, J. Simpson, W. Cleeland, C. Polley.

Next games – Round 2 – Boyer Oval – April 13
Women v Dodges Ferry at 10am
Reserves v Dodges Ferry at noon
Seniors v Dodges Ferry at 2pm.

New Norfolk and Derwent Valley News is a sponsor of the New Norfolk District Football Club.

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