Round 8 Preview
Coffs Swans v North Coffs
A big crowd is expected at Fitzroy Oval to witness the top two sides on the ladder try and take another step towards guaranteeing a double chance in the finals series.
It doesn't really matter where they are on the ladder but one can always guarantee a great contest. These traditional rivals hold no love for one another, but there is an underlying respect with the result meaning a lot to both clubs.
The Swans will be eager to reverse their 52-point defeat to their cross-town rivals in Round 3 and will be competitive at home. They traditionally play their home ground well, which was evident last week as they dominated through the middle against the Lions.
Peter Robinson will be pivotal in nullifying the impact of representative ruckman, Matthew Quinlan. Robinson has worked his way into the middle of the ground and will need to be accountable against Quinlan who is effective in the air at either end.
Brad Giri is a great exponent of breaking the ball free of congestion and the Swans will need to have a strong defence to repel his attacks from the centre. The seasoned Jason Thomas and Dave Colman have a tough task this week in slowing the ‘Roos ball use.
Jordan O’Connor is the main forward for the Kangaroos with his five-goal haul crucial in the Kangaroos’ narrow win over Grafton last week. Expect Spencer Day or even, Rob Eddy to line up besides the tall forward.
Forward entries will also be important for the Swans. Fraser Duryea was more active last weekend, and along with Evan Duryea, a slimmer and fitter Scott Morgan and the reborn, Tristan Snow, are more than capable of taking a contested mark. Snow's leadership ability on the field can not be underestimated.
The speed is out wide for both sides. Alex Delves and Michael Kerr are handy players for North Coffs whilst Blake Ford and the Burow brothers need a strong game to give the Swans a chance.
There are doubts over Darren Funston (coccyx) and Dave Box (finger), both of whom have arguably been their sides’ best this season.
There is an air of quiet confidence within the Swans' ranks. They have been building slowly and are hot on the heels of their bitter rivals. Norths still rightly deserve to start favourites, with the Swans having more than a battle on their hands if they are to square the ledger for 2009.
Port Macquarie v Grafton
This game at Macksville Park will go a long way to determining fourth place on the ladder. Port (fourth) and Grafton (fifth) are separated by a win, with Grafton having the higher percentage.
Despite both registering losses last game, confidence will have been gained from being able to push last year’s Grand Finalists.
Grafton, boosted by fresh faces were unlucky not to win against the Kangaroos. The Tigers possess greater depth with Ryan Sheather and Daniel Zacek now able to be used more up forward. Sam Morrison and Bryce Kurtzmann are also coming on well as outside midfielders. Think also of the benefit of allowing Justin Darby to play as more across half-back.
If they can get Shawn Purdon back and at his best, they will boast a class goal-to-goal line.
Graheme Blackwell kicked another five and is up there among the League's leading goalkickers.
All of that sounds good in print, but reality shows they have to take that potential to Macksville and defeat the improving 'Pies who are coming along as a unit.
The Magpies were able to match the Saints for three quarters last week. Having lost a number of experienced stars, Port still has a core component of in-and-under players proven at Senior level. Shannon Skreja and Clayton Miechel are among those with invaluable premiership experience.
Dean Nankervill may return from injury and Greg Dean is in great touch.
A definitive clash; with a loss for either side making it very hard for them to catch up.
Sawtell/Toormina v Nambucca Valley
Sawtell are destined to notch their fifth consecutive win on Saturday against the Lions at the Coffs Coast Leisure Park.
The Saints gritty win over Port sees them sit just outside the top two with an opportunity to move inside provided the Swans falter this weekend.
The midfield trio of Luke Matthews, Todd Matthews and Mark Couzens have been improving each week, as has Daniel Johnson and Daniel Pritchard after both being absent at different stages this season.
Nambucca Valley, after pressuring the Swans in the opening stages, was unable to stem the Swans onslaught.
While certainly a competitive outfit, they are not up to the class of the big boys just yet.