Round 17 Preview
Rivals looking for turn-around of fortunes; of different kinds
At the Coffs Coast Leisure Park, the Swans will be looking to reverse their loss to the Kangaroos less than a month ago. Since then, the red and whites haven’t lost a game, whilst the ‘Roos form has been below par.
The Kangaroos have endured a difficult year to date with injuries and player unavailability depriving the side of a chance to build some consistency. They always seem to bolster their roster and consequently, their form come August time, and play a brand of finals football suited to the BCU Stadium.
Brad Giri will be vital to their chances. When he plays, their toughness and ability to compete rises tenfold. Darren Funston needs his support to shake the opposition’s attention. Sam Dawes was best afield in the corresponding clash and he needs to rise again as the stakes get higher.
The Swans look rejuvenated and should be better equipped leading into this clash. They need to win tough and that’s the only question mark that lingers at this stage over their credentials. Their opening terms of late have been like a slingshot, averaging seven goals in the last three weeks.
Dave Box has added more firepower up forward. Wade Hickey has added surety to the backline along with the reliable Rob Eddy. Peter Chadwick and Hamish Pearce will be vital for winning contested football in coming weeks, with Tristan Snow and Evan Duryea also finding some form.
The Swans have the form, but then again, it’s a two horse race, with an experienced outfit assuming underdog status. Gaining confidence will be the key for both sides, and winning on Saturday is the best way to do that.
Sawtell face tough road trip against struggling 'Pies
The Port Magpies, like their Collingwood counterparts, are a tipster’s nightmare as it’s hard to know what sort of performance they will turn up.
The defending premiers have lost handsomely against the now top-two sides away, but are in with a chance at home against the premiership favourites, who will travel without injured star, Ben Hooke.
Hooke will fight against time to return this season, forcing coach, Russ Matthews to reconfigure their forward line. Like a fighter pilot, Russ is a renowned trouble-shooter, and the likes of Daniel Pritchard and Dave Meyers looked handy last week, albeit against the lowly-ranked Grafton. The Saints have always had a small forward line but have benefitted from excellent entry from Mark Couzens and Jai Hardy in recent weeks.
The Saints, as always, will take this match seriously and should travel with a stronger squad to Stuart Park. Courtney Tune and Josh Edwards were among those who returned last weekend and will be good for the run.
Port were insipid to say the least and need a better frame of mind to be a contender in August. Jacob Hart and Matt Newton again were the only targets up forward. Dan Blysma had a strong game in the centre, whilst Matthew Long tried hard. Others need to stand up in order to get back to the team-oriented football the ‘Pies are renowned for.
Bottom sides bid farewell
The bottom two sides will close their seasons with a last hurrah at Ellem Oval.
It looks like there will be three grades being played up in Grafton, in a testament to the two clubs. There will not be much at stake in the Seniors except for bragging rights after the game, with Grafton holding the wood over the Lions; winning all contests between the sides this season.
Scott Onus and Justin Darby have been good for the Tigers all season, and they will battle it out against Monty Schmidt and Luke Benson.
It will be a question of whether the Lions will make it to Grafton, with our reliable source/s stating that Daniel Linares is in charge of driving duties. Let's hope he steers the bus as well as he leads his side on the paddock!
It promises to be a good day of action, with festivities sure to carry on long into the morning; I mean night!
Isn't that what football is all about?!