Round 8 Preview
North Coffs v Coffs Swans
A precious top two position is again on the line as the two cross-town rivals, North Coffs and Coffs Swans renew hostilities at the Coffs Coast and Leisure Park (adjacent to BCU Stadium). A cherished double chance comes with a top two position and a loss to either will make that more difficult.
There is nothing quite like a Swans/Norths showdown to get the crowd on their feet and the players from both sides rise to a new level for these games.
In their last meeting the Coffs Swans were pegged back by the Roos only to run away in the last term.
The Kangaroos have improved since then and their charge is gaining momentum and they are primed for a strong performance this round against the Swans who were competition favourites only two weeks ago. They had their wings clipped against the Saints last start and are in danger of a slide down the ladder if they are unable to find some continuity with the inclusion of several key names.
The ‘Roos deserve credit for reshaping their club for a renewed tilt at the title and are benefitting greatly under a new leadership team. Jamie Coad and Danny McFadden are instilling greater discipline and this is being replicated by the likes of their increasing number of on-field leaders.
The performance of Jordan O’Connor up forward has afforded the side the luxury of playing Darren Funston up the ground and he has not disappointed, racking up numerous possessions and finally showing the confidence that indicates he has overcome injury that has held him back in recent years. Sam Dawes is continuing his impressive form, and the inclusion of once-retired, Brad Giri into the midfield is now a salivating prospect for any Kangaroos supporter.
The Coffs Swans still deserve favouritism with a side that boasts Evan Duryea and Peter Chadwick as marquee players. Last week’s list was a shade of their number one side. They seriously missed the young players who have displayed skill and a willingness to attack through the middle third of the ground.
Blake Ford and the Burow brothers were impressive in the North Coast’s 20 point defeat against the well-established Black Diamond Under 18s side and will be crucial in the midfield, along with Fraser Duryea, who is set to make a return for this match after recently showing his wares in the Queensland league. Tristan Snow is on fire at the moment and adds stability in a key position.
One feels this is a season-defining match for both sides. The Swans have a better range of skills and encompass great depth across the ground. The Kangaroos, if they are to win, need to impose themselves on the contest early and prevent the Swans from gaining another fast start.
Sawtell v Nambucca Valley
The goal umpires will get plenty of practice in this match, with Sawtell sure to continue their strong form as they are set to belt the under-performing Lions this weekend at Richardson Park.
The Saints are establishing themselves as a genuine premiership threat.
Mark Couzens returned to his dominant best last week, showing the results of improved match fitness; he was a presence over the ground, as the Saints belted the once ladder-leading Swans. Young Todd Matthews has grown in confidence and must be knocking on the door of representative selection.
These two along with Daniel Johnson provide a lot of thrust and are delivering efficiently to Ben Hooke, who at full-forward gives the Saints forward-line a new dimension with his ability to mark overhead and in contested marking situations.
Nambucca should’ve performed much better last week and let go of what should be their only chance of winning this season. Daniel Linares is not getting much support in the midfield, with Ray McGrath the only target up forward.
Don’t expect Sawtell to take their foot off the accelerator, as they will benefit from a much needed percentage booster. This could be a blow out.
Port Macquarie v Grafton
An intriguing match-up looms between the sides lying fourth and fifth on the ladder respectively. The match, to be held at Macksville Park to accommodate for Grafton’s travelling commitments is the second match in a row at the ground for the Tigers, and they will have fond memories as they beat Nambucca by a large margin last start, with Sean Purton jumping to the top of the goalkicking tally with an 11 goal performance.
The Grafton Tigers have a chance to inflict a third straight defeat on the struggling Port Magpies on Saturday and possibly climb into the top four. They look a different side to previous years and are finally fulfilling their potential, much to the pleasure of those who have stuck by them during thick and thin.
Star recruit Daniel Zacek is an outstanding player, reminiscent of past captain Mark Blundell, and has given the side a timely boost. Him and Ryan Sheather will need to provide a lot of the Tigers momentum to give Purton and young livewire forward, Dale Beaver, premium opportunities in front of goal. Dave Gordon is in vintage form in the ruck, with Luke Hayman and others finding more confidence in their midfield roles.
The Magpies will look to arrest a two game losing streak, and with a weakened line-up they still boast premiership stars in Dean Nankervill, Jesse Schmidt and Matthew Newton. Saying this, they need more talent around them if they are to consolidate a top four position.
Neither of these two travel all that well away from home so anything can happen.
Grafton need to win weekend to remain a top four threat, but it is hard to see them getting up to defeat a wily Port outfit keen to find form and get their season back on track.
- Keep up to date with the latest news for the upcoming Regional Championships over the June long weekend in Wagga Wagga. See the 'Events' section of the website for more details.