Beaten Eagles look to bounce right back
THE last time New Norfolk lost a Southern Football League grand final — to Kingborough in 2011 — it was a catalyst for three straight flags.
And after losing this year’s decider to fierce rival Claremont, Eagles coach Caden Wilson hopes his club is on the brink of yet another run of premiership success, especially after a horror injury run this season gave a bunch of talented youngsters a crack at not only playing senior footy but also a senior grand final.
“The last time the club lost a grand final we won the next three, so it’s going to hurt, it always hurts losing a game, let alone a grand final, but that’s footy and that’s the great thing about footy — there’s always next year,” Wilson said.
“I think it’s great for the football club that young fellas are getting the opportunity to play senior footy and senior footy grand finals. We’ve got great depth in all of our teams, so it’s great for the football club.”
A 12-minute period in the second quarter cost the Eagles in the grand final at KGV Oval on Saturday, as Claremont kicked nine goals straight to set up a 16.15 (111) to 6.11 (47) win.
In the 17th minute of the second quarter, after Nathan Matthews kicked Claremont 23 points ahead, the plucky Eagles were arguably still in the game.
However, by the 29th minute, when Sean Salter blew the lead out to 71 points, New Norfolk’s hopes of winning four flags in a row were in tatters.
“The second quarter was the difference when you think about it — 10 goals to none and we lose by 64 points, so if you put it in that context one quarter cost us,” Wilson said.
“But to be honest, the going got tough for us and they capitalised. It’s a credit to them [Claremont].”
The Eagles went into their seventh consecutive grand final without star players from its 2014 premiership-winning side such as Wilson, Josh Hall, Michael Thompson and Brett Booth.
Despite the absence of these big guns from years past, New Norfolk only trailed by nine points at the first break.
Claremont started well, kicking two goals in the first 11 minutes, but the Magpies were wasteful with their kicking.
However, accuracy was also proving a problem for New Norfolk.
Tristan Triffett hit the post in the seventh minute when he really should have scored after earning a free kick against Nic Hobden for holding the ball.
The Eagles then scored goals courtesy of Nic Clayton and the excellent Blair Wardlaw in four minutes to reduce the margin to just three points in time-on.
However, just a minute later Claremont struck a big blow to New Norfolk’s hopes when Field Reeves registered his first for the game.
New Norfolk started the second quarter well, and was generally on top for the first 10 or so minutes, but Ashley Bennett kicked one for Claremont to give them a 17-point lead.
Then the key moment of the game occurred. Claremont’s Chris Novy was knocked out by a high hit from Bryan Chaplin, which ended the Magpie’s afternoon. Claremont was given a free kick and a 50m penalty that was duly converted by Matthews and the floodgates opened.
Nathan Ross goaled on the half-time siren to ensure New Norfolk at least had a goal to its name for the second quarter.
New Norfolk won the second half through two goals to Rohan Heron and one to Ross, but the damage had been done and the focus now turns to bouncing back next season.