Swans and Port win
The competition kicked off with a bang on the weekend. The favourites got up but in close encounters against resilient opposition.
Coffs Swans 14.13-97 def. Grafton 11.11-77
The Swans got their season off to a solid start but were given a scare by an improved Grafton outfit at Ellem Oval.
In a physical encounter, Grafton jumped out of the blocks to hold a solid first-quarter lead. Representative star, Daniel Zacek started well and led his side superbly around the ground, whether it be in the air or on the ground.
Albury recruit, Leigh Martin was the big off-season signing for the Swans and was the best player on ground until he sustained a broken leg and ankle late in the first quarter.
Not to be deterred, the Swans rallied over the next two quarters to chip away at the Tigers lead. Hamish Pearce was instrumental in the comeback. Based in Armidale with university, the youngster was a welcome addition into the squad and was dominant in winning the contested possessions to dig his side out of trouble.
Zacek, along with Dale Beaver, were key in holding a slender lead for the Tigers going into the final quarter. The Swans found it hard to match Beaver who was agile in minimal space and constantly put his side into attack.
The Swans experience came to the fore in the last quarter. Rob Eddy and Dave Box led the way from defence. Darby Pearce was strong in the tackle count, and Evan Duryea was dangerous in the forward 50, kicking a couple of impressive goals. This eventually wore down on the accountable Grafton defence led by Justin Darby, who played well throughout the contest.
A straight shot from fellow young-gun Sam Turner wrapped the game up for the Swans, in a game where they managed to get out of jail.
Port Macquarie 15.18-108 def. Nambucca Valley 10.6-66
A six-goal virtuoso from Jesse Schmidt helped the Magpies take away four points at Stuart Park.
Nambucca Valley, under new coach, Ray McGrath, showed heart and took it up to the 2007 premiers in a promising display. McGrath was his side's best in a dynamic performance across half-forward.
Although Port led for the whole match, their dominance was negated by the spirited Lions. Inside midfielder, Luke Benson led by example with Justin Saker also prominent up forward.
Jimmy Angel gave away size but was good in defence; true signs of an even contest between the two sides over the field.
Port looked to Gordon Wiegold and Shannon Srkeja for a lot of their forward thrusts, with the superb finishing skills of Schmidt the main difference between the two sides.
The sour note for the 'Pies was the report and subsequent two-week suspension for coach, Tim Donohue for striking.