By Gary Williamson
NEW Norfolk showed the football world they still have the hunger and drive to be the best when they overcame a 44 point deficit early in the second term to take control in the last half and win a much deserved Southern Football League premiership over a gallant but wasteful Lindisfarne. Final scores were 10.18 (78) to 11.7 (73).
The first term saw Lindisfarne kicking with the aid of a 3-4 goal breeze. They were on fire and a shellshocked New Norfolk could not get their hands on the football as the Two Blues kicked five goals in the first eight minutes to race away to a commanding lead. The Eagles slowed down the play later in the term but they still trailed by 37 points and needed a big second term with the breeze to get back into the game.
The Two Blues started the second term well on top and appeared too fast and slick for the Eagles and when they kicked the first goal of the term the game looked over for New Norfolk. The Eagles slowly started to work their way back into the game and kicked a further four goals to reduce the margin to 24 points at the main break but were still not playing their best football as Lindisfarne looked confident with their handy lead.
Against the breeze in the premiership quarter, New Norfolk really started to put some pressure around the stoppages and Lindisfarne started to look shaky. Instead of going through the corridor the Two Blues played wide and this dried up their scoring opportunities as the Eagles took over the aerial duels and kicked four valuable goals to reduce the margin to eight points at the main break and they appeared to have all the momentum.
The Eagles dominated the last term early on but wasted scoring opportunities with six straight behinds before a great mark and goal from a well-held Thomspon put the Eagles in front for the first time all day and they were never going to surrender the lead. They really should have won by more after dominating the second half and were brave in coming back from a big deficit.
The disappointed Lindisfarne really faltered under pressure and went away from their game plan, seeming to play safe football. They chipped the ball wide and their run and carry disappeared as they played the game on the Eagles' terms. They will have learnt from their mistakes and this will make them better prepared for next year.
Eagles big man Brad Carver played a lone hand up forward early, then steadied them in the back half in the second term. He went into the ruck for the last half and changed the game around in a dominant display and was worthy winner of the Tony Martyn Medal for best on ground. He received good support from veteran Roger Belcher after a slow start. Belcher's experience and strength was vital in the second half. The Eagles defence was solid all day with Hall, Bonnitcha and Heron keeping quiet some dangerous opponents after half time. Better players for Lindisfarne were Myers, Ford, Proctor and Braslin but these players lacked support when the pressure was applied by the victors.