THE Cardiff Hawks have successfully defended their title for another year after going through the Tablelands Cup in Armidale undefeated for the second year in a row.
The side have been a force in the Hunter’s Black Diamond League for over 20 years and showed why, beating the Coffs Harbour Swans convincingly in the final.
The New England Nomads hosted the event with coach Zac Economou saying it was a great hit out for the team.
“There was a lot of good footy played over the day,” Economou said.
“I think it was a bit of a shock to everyone after the off-season and there is going to be some sore bodies this week.”
Three late pullouts from Inverell, Singleton and Scone meant the five remaining teams played a round robin with 17-minute halves.
The Nomads had a good run beating the Tamworth Roos and Wyong, but going down to both finalists.
The Roos had a good win over Wyong and could be a force in this year’s TAFL, although the Nomads will once again be heavy favourites to go back to back.
Coffs’ Mark Wilcox was named Player of the Day, although it was Cardiff that ruled the field.
“They are a very well drilled outfit and beat everyone comfortably,” Economou said.
“We did get a lot of positive feedback about the tournament and will be looking to make it better and possibly bigger next year.
“If we get more than eight teams registered we could make it two days and make a weekend of it.”
The Nomads are once again shaping up well for the TAFL season, and with the benefit of the university, have once again got plenty of numbers.
The side that played in the Cup will have eight more returning faces to add from last year by the time the season starts.
They will, however, be short last year’s player-coach Tom Granleese who has retired, as well as captain Clinton Ballagh who has moved to Victoria.
The TAFL season this year starts on May 3 and will include the Narrabri Eagles after two years out of the league, but will be missing the Muswellbrook Cats who have joined the Black Diamond League.
The Eagles will get their first hit out on April 12 with a three-way trial against Gunnedah and the Tamworth Swans in Gunnedah.