Two Blues hold firm after late charge
WITH their big gun out, the Eagles needed someone to step up and it was skipper Josh Clifford who almost inspired the most unlikely of victories.
Facing premiership fancy Lindisfarne on its own dunghill, New Norfolk was stung by the late withdrawals of spearhead Marcus Parker (oblique muscle strain) and centre half back Josh Farrow (migraine) the day before, and then onballer Jacob Wigg (back) early in the game.
Still the Eagles refused to buckle.
Trailing by five goals at half-time, New Norfolk pushed to within 16 points at the last change, and then to just five points down in the last.
But there was to be no fairytale this time.
A controversial decision that could have been interpreted as holding the ball or holding the man went the home side’s way, followed by a 50m penalty resulting in the steadier the Two Blues needed to eventually record a 13-point win, 14.12 (96) to 12.11 (83).
With Marcus Parker — by far the Eagles leading goalscorer with 29 this year — sidelined, coach Jeremy Parker had to make structural changes to the forward line.
He made pint-sized captain Josh Clifford the focal point in what turned out to nearly be a matchwinning move.
Clifford bagged five goals and was inspirational for the young Eagles.
“He normally plays as a small forward for us, but with Marcus out he stood tall for us and took a few contested marks for us and really stood up for us,” Parker said. “He played a captain’s game the way we were undermanned.”
The Eagles had their chances in the second term, but could only muster 0.8 for the quarter, with four of those striking the goalpost.
“We had our opportunities in the second quarter but couldn’t execute on the scoreboard basically,” he said.
“The boys had some confidence at half-time knowing they weren’t that far away.
“To their credit we were undermanned and they came out after half-time and really worked hard and put their bodies on the line was the biggest thing.”
New Norfolk now sits in seventh spot, two wins adrift of fifth-placed Hobart.
The SFL has a competition bye for the long weekend, with New Norfolk to give some of its midfielders some wellearned rest.
Upon return, the Eagles have a big task in hosting ladder leaders Claremont at Boyer.
And they may have to do it again without Marcus Parker, who could be sidelined for another game or two due to his injury.