AROUND THE TRAPS WITH ROD "ROCKET" MACPHERSON
End of Financial Year Bonanza
What better way to end the financial year than a possible Grand Final preview and today top two sides Grafton and Sawtell/Toormina go head to head at Ellem Oval Grafton in what will be the game of the season. Sawtell has stormed into second spot and has not lost a game for almost two months. This includes a narrow, but emphatic, victory over today’s opponents. The Saints travel today with almost a full list that includes champion midfielder Pat Gillingham who is returning from a long term injury. With only Todd Matthews (unavailable) and Mark Couzens (leg) missing from their best possible line up the Saints are full of confidence.
However wins do not come easy up at Tiger land and the locals have not dropped a game there since 2010. The Tigers are also at full strength and will unveil the return of star utility Evan Duryea who was granted a last minute clearance from Southport. Duryea is super fit and has a few senior 1st Division games under his belt and will be an outstanding inclusion for the already powerful Grafton attack. His return has pushed key forward Sean Purdon back to reserve grade.
Port to Reclaim Second Spot
The battered Port Macquarie Magpies have had a testing few weeks on the road which has seen them slip back to third spot on the AFLNC ladder. However, back at home today and hosting the struggling and winless Coffs Swans they will bounce back and boost their percentage to reclaim second spot, regardless of the outcome at Grafton.
Some big inclusions include Jessie Schmidt, Matt Newton, Alan Morris, Greg Langlois and Jacob Hall.
The Swans are certainly looking at 2013 although I would not say that to Tristan Snow who plays every game like his last. The club may well focus on its U18 and reserves who both look likely to make the play offs.
AROUND THE TRAPS with Rod Macpherson
Craig Parsons transferred to Sawtell from the Swans in the off season but has not had much game time in 2012. He showed on Saturday just how important he will be to the Saints in the finals by slamming home six majors last week.
I hear it happens in all sports codes and AFL is no different in that players just do not commit to travel. Port Macquarie had multiple players doubling up last week only to be thrashed in all grades by a Sawtell side that was below them on the ladder in all grades. Hats off to the Magpies for continually fielding three sides week after week despite having the busiest travel schedule of all the clubs.
The strength of the Grafton club is highlighted by the inclusion of Evan Duryea from Southport. To put that club into perspective Southport is the largest AFL club in Queensland boasting over 40,000 members. Duryea kicked 2 goals and was in the best players last week in their reserves.