A INSPIRED final term from Hillston forward James Nancarrow has lifted the Northern Riverina to 11.13 (79) to 9.14 (68) victory over Central West on Saturday night at Wade Park.
Down by four points after a third-quarter fight back from the Central West swung momentum the hosts way, Nancarrow swooped in wet conditions to boot three goals from the forward flank and shoot the red and blacks to an 11 point win.
Retaining the Matt Smith Memorial Trophy for the first time in five years, Northern Riverina skipper Shane Russell said his side’s come from behind victory was thoroughly satisfying after the opposition dominated the third term with four majors.
“After that I just asked for one last ditch effort in the last from our boys and they came through and came home with the goods,” Lake Cargelligo’s Russell said, helping mark the 90th anniversary of Northern Riverina AFL.
“It’s a big thing for us. We’re both on pretty much the same scale level with our leagues.
“For us to come over here and beat them at home is a big thing for us. We won it last year for the first time in about three years so it was big for us to come here and take it home with us.”
Out to an early lead thanks largely to a sloppy forward 50 conversion rate from Central West, Northern Riverina maintained its advantage at the major break with a 6.3 (39) to 4.10 (34) lead at halftime.
Lifting on home turf, Central West dominated the third quarter with crisp delivery from star mid-fielders Josh Bubnich and Michael Rothnie enabling forwards Sam Herzich and Tim Hunter to kick the spoils and shoot their side to the lead.
Enjoying a four goal penultimate term, Mark Kennedy’s team lead by four at the final change before Nancarrow’s heroics spoiled the party.
With five more shots on goal than its opposition in the first half, Central West coach Mark Kennedy lamented a lack of polish in the forward 50.
“We probably should have converted a lot more opportunities, I think we kicked something like 10 behinds to two goals in the first half of the game,” Kennedy said.
“But the guys have played together for a long time out here, we don’t get together we just set structures and the game plan early so they know where they are early and hopefully they execute. I think they did that quite well.”
Young’s Shane Russell was the home side’s best on ground, while Barellan’s Jayden Boehm was the Northern Riverina stand-out player.
“It’s a really good rivalry. It’s good to have this rep football,” Kennedy continued.
“You need your good players in your region together and I think they step up another level.”
NORTHERN RIVERINA 11.13 (79) def CENTRAL WEST 9.14 (68)