THE SFL 2021 season has ended for the New Norfolk Eagles after suffering an 81-point loss to a more powerful opponent in the Dodges Ferry Sharks on their home turf at Shark Park.
The Sharks put on a convincing display of finals football as they march forward to take on the Lindisfarne Two Blues at Anzac Park this Saturday.
The Sharks jumped out of the blocks early with a five goal first quarter.
However, the real damage was done in the second term as the Sharks slammed on seven goals to the Eagles one to seal the contest by half time.
The home side had more options going forward, led by Cale Hooker (four goals), Robbie McManus (three goals) and Riley Hooker (three goals).
Symon Kennedy and Angus Kenny were also dangerous around the big sticks.
Match ups early in the contest had the Sharks ruck man Tim Cannan pitted against Jacob Daley, which was a surprise move by the Eagles as they opened the game with regular ruck man Ashley Burgess lining up at full forward.
The Sharks also had beanpole ruck man Mathew Young on the interchange bench.
Eagle key forward Jack Crossin returned from injury lining up in the forward pocket with Sharks vice-captain Jake Murphy in close check.
Eagle defender Josh Farrow had the job on Sharks captain Cale Hooker and David Cusick ran with high marking Eagle Tyler Ford.
The midfield battle saw Eagles Jamie Sokolski, Jacob Wigg and Jye Bearman facing the Sharks Jonathon Bullock, Jordan Dunn, and Fletcher Hooker but there were many rotations throughout the contest.
Eagle hard man Nathan Eiszele snapped a goal from 35 metres out to get the visitors on the scoreboard.
Another from Tyler Ford and the Eagles trailed by 20 points at the quarter time break.
(Sharks 5G.4B.34 points to the Eagles 2G.2B.14 points)
The second term was dominated by the Sharks with McGuinness, Jordan Dunn, and Fletcher Hooker instrumental in many forward entries while Robbie McManus and Symon Kennedy finished off their good work booting two majors each for the term.
The Eagles could only manage one goal for the quarter through Jack Crossin as the Sharks extended their lead to 60 points at the main break. Sharks 12.10 to the Eagles 3. 4.
The Sharks continued to apply pressure to the Eagles in the second half and were supreme in the air with their midfield group finding their key forwards on the lead on many occasions.
Brothers Cale and Riley Hooker added to the Eagles woes booting multiple goals during the third term to extend the lead to 74 points at three quarter time.
Tyler Ford performed well with three goals, Will Banks had plenty of the ball and provided run and carry for the Eagles.
Benny Lovell was his usual reliable self throughout the four quarters and bagged two goals and “that man” Jamie Sokolski was in every contest with his never-give-up attitude and continued to rack up heaps of possessions.
As for the Eagles, coach Josh Clifford addressed the players after the game simply stating that his side was not good enough against the top sides contesting for the SFL premiership cup.
He also said that he will be standing down as coach, but his love for the club may see him keep going in the future as a valued experienced member of the squad.
Clifford has played in several winning senior grand finals in past years and has coached at not only senior level but also coached the New Norfolk colts some years ago.
He has been a great mentor for the young players coming through the system.
Reflecting on the season the Eagles failed to string wins together and gain any momentum over several weeks, winning one week and losing the next which was a continuing pattern throughout the year.
The senior squad played some great footy at various stages against the top sides but could not go the full four quarters and eventually ran out of legs by seasons end.
On a positive note, the boys from the Valley made the finals and Clifford and the coaching panel introduced several exciting young players to the senior side over the year.
As usual with all footy teams, injury played a big part in the outcome of the season. If the group stays together, we may see the likes of the young brigade in Tyron Bailey, Will Banks, Brock Triffett, Brayden and Bailey Chaplin, Jack Hills, Jack Stevenson, Rowan Thomason, and several other young guns take the club into the next chapter of the New Norfolk footy club.
They have all gained valuable experience along the journey playing with the Senior squad this season.
Captain Jacob Wigg returned after a long-term injury midway through the season and worked his way back to the form we all know.
On baller Jamie Sokolski had a blinder of a season along with Jye Bearman and Josh Farrow who were consistent contributors throughout the year.
It was great to see Wigg and Farrow already commit for season 2022.
Veterans Josh Clifford, Rohan Heron, Benny Lovell, and Blair Wardlaw continue to lead the group and have been great players and stalwarts for the Club .
Newcomers Jack Crossin, Tyler Ford, Corey Jetson, and Tim Butterworth (retired) all contributed, and it would be great to see them all at the club next season along with other Senior players such as Nathan Eiszele, Jacob Daley, Jordan BanksSmith, Rhys Heald, Ashley Burgess, Josh Hills, and Jake Bearman.
As we know there will be changes ahead for the Club in the future with coaches and players so let’s see how the next chapter unfolds for this great footy Club.
Report by Wayne Walker.