Beaten Ea­gles look to bounce right back

The Gazette (Derwent Valley) - - FRONT PAGE - SIMEON THOMAS-WIL­SON

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.

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