Anzac Day Match Preview
The Anzac Day blockbuster between North Coffs and Sawtell at the Coffs Coast Leisure Park will be a repeat of last year's Grand Final.
In their last meeting, it was the Saints day. They played arguably their best match of the season with a complete display on the biggest stage. The Kangaroos came home with a wet sail, coming through sudden death contests to eventually fall short on Grand Final day.
The 2009 season is a different ball game and this encounter will be a much closer affair. North Coffs have been in heavy pre-season training and have recruited well in key positions.
The midfield will be led again by League Best and Fairest, Sam Dawes, and will be ably supported by Brad Giri and Josh Drum. The latter will not take a backward step and will be important in playing the game on the home side's terms.
Darren Funston looks lean and will be prominent again this season across half-forward. The 'Roos midfielders are adept at getting on the scoresheet, but they will look for more output from their forwards this season.
There is no doubt the Saints possessed the best depth of any side last season. Their ruck stocks look low this season with the loss of Josh Edwards and Tristan McCormick.
It will be interesting to see the impact of imports, Andrew Draper (Victoria), Tim Petrie (Sydney AFL) and Mick Rielly (Mackay). They will be the unknown quantity on the weekend- with only Sawtell sure of how many will play and where they will play.
Add to this the return of former captain, Luke Matthews and influential wingman, Daniel Johnson from travels and its still an impressive looking outfit with Mark Couzens and Todd Matthews looking to continue their powerhouse form from last season.
The club has made it no secret they are looking to go one better and win all three grades this season, after success also with their developing Under 18s list. Jack Gillingham and Elliott Schmidt have the frames to fit straight into the senior side.
Ben Hooke is coming off a century of goals last year, including six on Grand Final day in an enthralling contest with Drum. It will be interesting to see who lines up beside Hooke this time and if a player fills the hole across half-back.
Daniel Pritchard will also be important for the Saints hopes across half-forward again this season.
The lone sideline coaches in the competition will be important in masterminding the success for their respective sides again this season. Five-time premiership winning coach, Russ Matthews (Sawtell) and Danny McFadden (Norths) have great football brains and bring with them a culture of success.
From all reports, these two sides will probably line up as the best in the competition this season. It will be a great spectacle that will no doubt be tight and tough in the clinches.
In respect to the Anzac Day tradition, the Under 18s will kick off at 12.30, with Seniors scheduled to start around 2.30. Entry is free.