Riverina victory shows ‘NSW can match it with the best’

Kris Willett lays a tackle on James Toscan. Picture: KYLIE ESLER
Kris Willett lays a tackle on James Toscan. Picture: KYLIE ESLER

RIVERINA Football League coach Matt Hard believes Saturday’s big representative win should be a message to AFL Victoria that NSW can match it with the best.

The RFL marked its return to the Victorian representative scene with a convincing 108-point thrashing of Picola and District south-east at Tocumwal.

Hard hopes the win sets alarm bells ringing among the RFL’s southern rivals.

“We spoke about that before the game, we wanted to put in a good performance and make them take note,” Hard said.

“When we were up at three quarter time the boys could have just played the game out, but to their credit they finished really strongly and blew (Picola South) away.”

The RFL was dealt a blow on the eve of Saturday’s game when two-time Jim Quinn medallist Chris Gordon pulled out with a quad strain.

It was an arm wrestle early on as both teams started red hot, but RFL held a comfortable 13-point buffer at the first break.

The NSW visitors had extended their lead to six goals by half-time and were 50 points clear at the last change.

The fourth term was ruthless from RFL, who kept Picola and District scoreless while piling on 9.4 to run away with the game and win 21.17 (143) to 5.5 (35).

Collingullie-Ashmont-Kapooka full forward Brent Arho booted nine goals in a dominant performance.

“Early on they really took it to us, they played a good style of footy,” Hard said.

“Towards the end of the second quarter we got some ascendancy and our second half was really good.

“We brought each other into the game, we ran hard and carried the ball well.

“Our backline gave us good run and carry, the mids worked well both ways and the forwards gave us plenty of options.

“It was a really good team performance.”

While Hard struggled to single out individual performances it was CAK talent Matt Kennedy who was voted best on ground.

He won it narrowly from veteran midfielder Jamie Maddox.

Arho, John Anstee, Guy Orton and Matt Rava were all among the RFL’s best.

Hard also praised the work of big ruckman Ben Edyvean.