DAVE Richards kicked eight goals for New England Nomads in Saturday’s 140-point demolition of the Saints in the Essential Energy Tamworth AFL grand final.
Armidale’s Bellevue Oval was the scene of a clinical Nomads display as the home side kicked 27.14 176 to the Saints’ 5.6.36 to register a record grand final score and back-to-back premierships.
Saints matched it with the reigning premiers for the opening 10 minutes before the home side took control of the game to lead by 30 points at the first break.
Nomads defender and coach Tom Granleese was overwhelmed and relieved to be the first team to go back to back for 10 years.
“It’s a big effort from the boys,” Granleese said.
“We knew our running game and fitness could get us over the line but I didn’t imagine this score.”
The Nomads midfield was superb in defence and attack, distributing the ball from end to end with ease.
The likes of Weston Whitby, Zac Economou and Riley O’Connor were picking players out with ease and had the ball on a string through the middle.
“The whole side just came together and played probably our best game this season,” Granleese said.
The Nomads’ defence was almost impenetrable, with Granleese directing the line to keep the visitors scoreless in the final quarter.
As it has been all season, the New England attack was busy and deadly-accurate, slotting goals from everywhere in the square.
Richards was the clear standout, going on a few scoring rampages himself, setting up a couple of others and generally running rings around the Saints’ big defensive men.
His dominant game earned him the Graham Nuttall medal for best on field.
The Nomads had one hand firmly on the trophy at half- time going into the sheds at 15.3.93 to 4.2.26.
The final two quarters went the same way, with the Saints unable to penetrate into the attacking half.
The home side punished them at every turn with a stunning display of accuracy to score eight goals in the third quarter to the visitors’ one.
“Our fitness and skills really showed today,” Granleese said.
“This is what you train for all year and it paid off today.”
This is the sixth game in a row that the Nomads have beaten the Saints, a streak which started in last year’s final with the margin widening every game.
The writing was on the wall two weeks ago where the Nomads beat them by 99 points in the semi-final.
Saints coach Jason Gobbert was absolutely shattered by the loss.
“I can’t take anything away from them. They were just so disciplined,” Gobbert said.
“I didn’t think there was that big a gap between the two clubs.”
Toby Tollis was tireless in the midfield for the Saints, along with captain Justin Pay, but the Inverell side was just outplayed in every aspect.
It was the perfect end for captain Clinton Ballagh who is leaving Armidale for Victoria, as well as Granleese who is resigning as coach after his wife had a baby last Saturday.