Round 6 Preview
Coffs Swans v Grafton
Leading into the mid-season break, this match at Fitzroy Oval is crucial for both sides in maintaining their status on the ladder.
The Swans hold a small percentage lead over the Saints. A big win would help give the side some much-needed breathing space given the Saints’ jump in form.
Meanwhile, the Tigers are in pursuit of their first seniors finals campaign in living memory and the recent deluge and resultant ground closure could derail that campaign. They had a winnable game against the Lions cancelled last week, while fifth-placed Port Macquarie avoided the undefeated North Coffs.
Before the washout last week, the Swans enjoyed their strongest first-half performance of the year, keeping the travelling Port Magpies to one solitary goal. Evan Duryea enjoyed his return to Fitzroy Oval with a best-on-ground performance and will again be pivotal this weekend. Dave Colman is an important rebound player for red and whites. Scott Morgan will again be the linchpin up forward.
The backline has been lauded on a number of occasions and has claims to being the best in the competition. Rob Eddy is set to hold down the key centre half-back post in the Representative fixture next weekend and is getting strong support from Damien Elks and coach, Dave Box.
The Swans will look to youth in the big man department. Asher Landini needs to take ownership of the ruck as the season wears on, with Ben Miller being groomed as an understudy.
The Grafton outfit will need their best performance of the season to stand a chance and further cement fourth place and a spot in the finals. Realistically, they need to beat one of the top three sides at least once to hold off the Magpies for a staved finals berth.
The side matched Sawtell at stages in their last outing, and from this coach, Grahame Blackwell will no doubt be harping on the importance of a four-quarter performance in putting pressure on the opposition.
They have a height advantage with Zac Edwards and Kelly Thompson able to play up forward, in tandem with exciting forward, Dale Beaver.
In the middle, Daniel Zacek is the go-to man. Zacek, one of the best five players in the competition, is an all-round player able to move between defence and attack with ease. Bryce Kurtzmann and Dominic Duggan need to provide more support to Zacek in the midfield. Scott Onus is also a strong servant with a big game needed from him.
Justin Darby is a constantly improving backline player and with more experience and attacking flair across half-back, he will be a superb player. Ryan Sheather adds the sureity down back the Tigers need.
The start will be even more crucial in shaping the result given the Swans narrow win the last time these two sides met. A Tigers loss and a probable Magpies win will mean Grafton drop out of the top four. It adds to the intrigue of what should be a tight contest at Fitzroy Oval.
Nambucca Valley v Port Macquarie
The current cellar dwellers of the competition face off at Macksville Park aiming to gain some momentum into the second half of the season.
Their previous clash in Round 1 had the Lions challenge the highly-billed Magpies and were on the verge of a major upset until Jesse Schmidt chimed in with a bag of goals.
Port wouldn’t have minded the poor weather last weekend as they faced a tough assignment in trying to combat the undefeated Kangaroos. They have been ordinary compared to their lofty standards but may sneak into the finals race, with an Elimination Final their best prospect. A win in this match could even see them leapfrog Grafton (if they lose) into fourth place heading into June.
The Magpies will look to follow on from their strong second-half against the Swans. Greg Dean and Michael Kemp will look to continue their strong form this season, but need more support from the little men for the new-look ‘Pies to improve.
Nambucca Valley has played well in patches, which was proven as they matched the ladder-leading ‘Roos in the second quarter last weekend. This hasn’t prevented a few blowouts as they still endeavour to add continuity to their current structure.
Newcomer, Aaron Clarke is promising as a strong marking tall. Ideally, he would be playing closer to goal, but at the moment is needed to help Monty Schmidt and Luke Benson in the midfield. Jim Angel leads an improving defence that is learning the craft more so with every game.
Saying this, their attack is a big weakness, which should help the Magpies win well.