Round 10 Preview
Sawtell v North Coffs
After the long weekend break to accommodate for the Representative carnival at Wagga Wagga, local action resumes this weekend with a crucial clash between the Sawtell Saints and North Coffs Kangaroos highlighting action at Richardson Park.
The Saints will be treating Saturdays showdown with arch rivals North Coffs as a must win game as they look to consolidate their position in the top two whilst the ‘Roos are a game behind in fourth place.
The Saints have the edge this year and apart from their last loss at Port Macquarie, when down several key players, have beaten all the other top four sides in the last round.
They will be reliant on their midfield to get the job done for them on Saturday. Mark Couzens should return and along with Todd Matthews will need to be prepared to win the hard ball against the big frames of Sam Dawes and Josh Drum, in particular.
The key clash will be in the ruck, with Graeme Connolly (Norths) and Courtney Tune (Sawtell) being the premier big men in the competition with their ability not only in the centre but also in winning possessions around the ground.
Sawtell will sorely miss the rebound ability of Daniel Johnson who is travelling overseas for an extended period. His loss can’t be underestimated and may dampen Sawtell’s premiership hopes.
Darren 'Freddy' Funston is arguably the form player of the competition and was easily North Coast’s best last weekend. The nuggetty on-baller is accustomed to aches and pains and he would probably expect more after this game in what is expected to be a physical clash.
The Kangaroos have a more functional forward line this year with Jordan O’Connor and Jamie Coad being genuine targets but they will go head-to-head against the premier full-forward in Ben Hooke. Expect both sides to deploy extra men in defence to nullify the impact of these star forwards.
The Kangaroos have improved since the sides last clashed and have added more depth to their playing roster. A tough one to pick, but it will come down to which side has the greater commitment and hunger for the four points.
Grafton v Coffs Swans
A danger clash looms for the Swans as they travel to Ellem Oval to face the improving Tigers.
Grafton prove they are a different proposition at home and might be fresher than the Swans who had a lot of players involved in the representative fixture. Peter Chadwick is a wise man though and will be wary of the need for his charges to be physically and mentally ready for what Grafton are capable of. Saying this, he (hamstring) and Tristan Snow (calf) have injury clouds over them and are in doubt.
The Tigers are capable of an upset on any given day with a side boasting Sean Purton, Mark Blundell and Daniel Zacek up forward. This tall trio has talent oozing through their veins and it is only a matter of getting the ball to them. Zacek was profilic in a forward role last weekend and is a likely type. Ryan Sheather and Scott Onus are the men, along with Dave Gordon in the ruck, must win the clearances for Grafton to have a chance of victory.
This is easier said than done with Swans possessing arguably the strongest midfield in the competition. Shane McGrath is performing well in the ruck and Evan Duryea and Blake Ford are ball winners who also run off to provide options. Rob Eddy is finding touch and getting better each week and will be a stumbling block for the Tigers across half back. should win but the Tigers have come a long way and are close to being able to knock off a top side.
The Swans have plenty of punch although their favoured running game may be stifled on the small Grafton track.
Saying this, the Coffs boys should win but the Tigers have come a long way and are close to being able to knock off a top side.
Nambucca Valley v Port Macquarie
Port will be buzzing after knocking off the once ladder-leading Sawtell Saints and could jump into second place after this weekend dependant on other results as they make their shortest road trip to take on the Lions at Macksville Park.
Paul Sheldon and the Magpies’ coaching staff might take the opportunity to rest a few sore bodies from last weekend with Dean Nankervill among those in line for a weekend off.
They will still win despite the best efforts of the Lions, who must stick with it and understand they are a few key men away from being more competitive.
Port have class young men in Jesse Schmidt and Matthew Lill who will be pivotal in propelling them towards senior success again this year. I still think they have a card or two up their sleeve and have not got close to hitting top form.