Two Blues hold firm af­ter late charge

The Gazette (Derwent Valley) - - SPORT - BRETT STUBBS

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.

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