Nottingham hosted both semi finals on Saturday 4th August. As it turned out both games were one-sided affairs. The teams that finished 1 and 2 proved that they deserve to play off in this weekend’s Grand Final. Thanks to Nottingham who did a fantastic job of hosting the semis.
Nottingham 21.19 145 vs 5.10 40 Sheffield
Nottingham came into the game with a strong victory against Wolverhampton while Sheffield had the perfect preparation with a hard-fought but confidence boosting win over Birmingham. Both teams had reason to be nervous with the Scorpions only having three players on the bench which was not ideal on a warm and muggy day. Thunder was missing three key players in Nevin, Kay and Titman which gave the rest of the players a lot more responsibility.
It was Nottingham who got the jump early, kicking 8 first quarter goals with Sam Wood and Rich Lucas causing headaches for the Sheffield backmen. A brilliant Simon Vardy snap gave the Thunder their only goal for the quarter.
The game continued in the same vein in the second quarter as Nottingham continued to have complete control across the whole ground. By half time the game was all but over. In a sometimes spiteful third quarter Nottingham slammed on 6 goals to none with Kraefft doing as he pleased and the Scorpions midfielders getting in on the goal kicking action.
Finally in the last quarter Sheffield turned things around, playing all over Nottingham and outscoring them for the quarter.
It was a deserved win for Nottingham who played a skillful fast-moving brand of football. They welcome back a few key players for next weekend’s Grand Final which will give them a huge confidence boost.
For Sheffield it was a disappointing loss after such a positive season. Despite this Sheffield have blooded a number of very good young players this year and look in strong shape for 2013.
Manchester 27.34 196 vs 4.1 25 Huddersfield
Coming off a stirring victory against Leeds the week earlier Huddersfield were confident of causing a major upset. Manchester were looking to capitalise on an unbeaten season and book a spot in the Grand Final.
Early play was all Manchester’s way with constant forward forays putting the Huddersfield defence under a lot of pressure. To the Rams credit they held tight and kept Manchester at bay for much of the quarter. Unfortunately for the Rams the quality of ball supplied to the Mozzies forwards by their midfield was too much as the Mosquitoes gained the ascendancy in the late parts of the quarter.
The second quarter was more one way traffic. The Manchester defence and midfield were constantly supplying the forwards with scoring opportunities. Huddersfield tried a different tack with their kick-outs, going long and direct through the middle. This worked well as they kicked a couple of goals against the tide. It wasn’t enough though and at half-time Manchester were leading 97 to 12.
The second half dominance continued for Manchester. With Huddersfield missing 3 tall players through injury they had trouble containing the Mozzies’ ruckmen and tall forwards. Inaccurate kicking from the Mozzies (21 behinds for the second half) kept their score below 200 but nonetheless it was a comprehensive victory. For Manchester Lachlan Daff kicked 9 goals and Tazz McAlister kicked 7. Mozzie ruckmen Ben Radloff and Pete Cunningham worked tirelessly all day giving the midfielders first use of the ball with some pinpoint tapwork. For Huddersfield Karl Haigh was rock-solid in defence and Matt Whiteley was prolific as usual through the midfield.
Manchester have won the right to take on Nottingham is this Saturday’s Grand Final at 2pm at Huddersfield.
Whilst it was a disappointing loss for Huddersfield they can take a lot of positives from the season. Coming from dead last early in the year to grab a finals spot in the last round was a fantastic effort. They have also recruited a large number of quality players who, with a full pre-season behind them, will no doubt strengthen the squad for 2013 make them a force once again.
As a curtain raiser to the Grand Final Huddersfield will be playing a CNE all-stars team comprising of players from the rest of the clubs in the league. The game starts at midday.