Sawtell secure three Grand Final spots
Best Players: D. Meyers, L. Matthews, J. Gillingham, L. Cohen, L. Draper-Bell, T. Matthews
Best Players: D. Funston, T. Campbell, B. Giri, C. McCoy, L. Sands, D. Funston
Sawtell secured a berth in the Grand Final with a strong second-half display to overcome North Coffs by 47 points at BCU International Stadium.
The Kangaroos had the better of the initial proceedings with their game plan to stretch Sawtell out wide taking some adjustment to counter. Young gun, Levi Sands was having a strong impact as an attacking half-back option.
The aerial superiority of Ryan Turner and Ben Sykes was aided by pinpoint kicking as the Kangaroos took a two-goal lead into the first change.
To Sawtell’s credit, they adapted and took greater control through the corridor leading into half-time. Jack Gillingham and Simon Taylor were among those able to find space through the middle in general play. Only inaccurate kicking prevented the Saints from taking a greater lead into the main break.
The third quarter saw the Kangaroos again start well only to fade as Sawtell’s fitness and ball use came to the fore.
Darren Funston was fantastic for his besieged charges and did everything to repel the Saints’ constant advances. Add this to Glen Golsby-Smith’s effort on Ben Hooke, keeping the leading goalkicker to one goal was heartening for the blue and white faithful.
While Hooke was relatively well-held, Dave Meyers led the way for his side. He became more of an option across half-forward, as he ended up with five goals.
The Saints registered fourteen scoring shots in the final quarter to continue their stronghold over the local competition. Luke Matthews and Lachlan Draper-Bell were enigmatic across half-forward in a pleasing performance as they aim now for a third successive Seniors crown.
Best Players: A. Draper, P. Myles, E. Brogmus, K. Schwartz, M. Rogister, S. Bilsborough
Best Players: J. Corrigan, G. Wiegold, T. Donohoe, T. Kelly, C. Gridley, S. Payne
The scores were tight throughout, with the Saints able to gain breathing space with three goals in the third quarter.
Andrew Draper was strong for the victors, along with Pat Myles who added pace and dexterity to the Saints attacking thrusts.
Port came home well late in the contest with John Corrigan and Gordon Wiegold among their best, ahead of the Preliminary Final clash with North Coffs next weekend.
Best Players: B. Brissett, J. Gillingham, E. Schmitt, B. Moffatt, J. Perks, J. Saunders
Best Players: D. Rumble, J. Williams, R. Lightfoot, L. Carroll, A. Gillman
Their recent history with Port Macquarie suggested the match would be a nailbiter with only one point separately the two sides in cumulative head-to-head scores this season.
The Magpies were at their best early and held a slender lead at quarter-time.
Eleven goals to three in the next two quarters blew the game wide open with the Saints completely dominant in the midfield and up forward.
Elliott Schmidt and Jack Gillingham both nailed six goals, with Blake Brissett being the best on ground with four goals and a strong display in the centre.
Port Macquarie again face North Coffs next week in this grade and need an improved display to book a rematch on Grand Final Day.