INVERELL Saints inflicted the first defeat of the Essential Energy Tamworth AFL season on runaway competition leaders and reigning premiers New England Nomads at Varley Oval on Saturday.
The Saints won by three points, kicking 13.8 86 to the Nomads’ 11.17 83.
A delighted Saints coach Nick Baird was full of praise for his side which had not beaten the Nomads for almost two years.
“All 22 players contributed,” he said.
“They rued a few missed opportunities in the first quarter too, missed a few shots and chances when they were all over us.
“But we took full advantage of ours.”
Luke Selig, Lachlan McDonald and Justin Pay were outstanding for the Saints.
Narrabri Eagles also returned to the winners’ list with a 22.5 137 to 14.14 98 win over Gunnedah Bulldogs in a game where Eagles captain-coach Todd Dunn kicked nine goals.
At No 1 Oval in Tamworth the Tamworth Kangaroos bounded away in the third quarter to set up a 45-point derby win over Tamworth Swans.
The Roos rallied from a half time deficit to win 15.16-106 to 9.7-61.
The Swans were well in the game at half-time, but were blown away in the third quarter when the Roos kicked six goals to a lone Swans behind.
“The third quarter killed us,” Swans coach Andrew Donoghue said.
It was pretty much the difference with both sides kicking three in the final term.
“We asked the blokes at half-time to play a Kangaroos style of football,” Roos coach Brett Douglas said.
“The first half we turned it over too much. We were rushing it. We had a lot of ball but we didn’t convert.”
He said in the third quarter a few players really stepped up, and they starting playing the style of game they are good at – “free-flowing and moving the ball quicker through the midfield”.
“We always knew we’d finish stronger,” Douglas said.
They had the benefit of a full bench. The Swans didn’t.
Dan Overeem continued his good recent form booting three along with Nicholas Frawley, while Ryan Painter and Rhett Graham each kicked two.
Douglas was again impressed by youngster Graham and Matt Hughes.
Hughes had a bit of a taste of both ends of the field.
“Matt played in defence in the first half and then I threw him forward in the second.
“He was a good target to hit,” he said.
He’s not the tallest forward running around but reads the game and found space well.
Another youngster was the star for the Swans with 16-year-old Thomas Byrnes kicking five.
Donoghue said their first half was great.
They went out and did what he’d told them to.
“We lost a bit of composure in the second quarter but we got it back and led at half-time,” he said.
But in the third quarter their lack of fitness showed, they made too many mistakes and gave the Roos too mich space.
“We were leaving them too loose, letting them run,” he said.
“I told them in the last quarter man-up. Don’t let them run.”
It was a lot better but they had too much ground to make up.
Along with Byrnes, Donoghue thought Lachie Rowlings, Chris Wilson and Josh McRae were their best.