Round 10 Preview
Coffs Swans v Sawtell/Toormina
The match of the day could well decide second place on the ladder with the Saints aiming to jump above the Swans at Fitzroy Oval.
The Coffs Swans currently sit in second spot, with Sawtell breathing down their necks in third and the winner will be an early favourite for the precious double chance come finals.
Both sides are hitting their straps with the Saints particularly impressive last weekend against the up-and-coming Grafton outfit. In a finals-like performance, they defied a Tigers comeback to notch a eight goal win.
The components are there for another successful tilt at the premiership flag. Ben Hooke and Les Cohen present better than anyone in the competition, whilst Mark Couzens (kicked three goals last week) and Luke Matthews have been dangerous moving forward.
Although they missed Jai Hardy and Todd Matthews last week, and still are without Dave Meyers through suspension, there is still a good mix of experience to support the youthful Ethan Kelly and Jack Gillingham who were among the Saints best last weekend.
The ruck options have been boosted with Kelly a standout prospect and the reliable Courtney Tune returning last week with a solid performance.
The Swans have exceeded all expectations and showed their worth after winning a tough encounter away at Port Macquarie. They paid a price for the win, with in-form defender, Damien Elks to miss two weeks for striking.
Fraser Duryea was the Swans only multiple goalkicker last week to continue his recent purple patch. The Swans will know need another key forward to stand up to kick a winning score against the reigning premiers. Scott Morgan and Evan Duryea were not active on the scoresheet last week but average close to three goals each per game.
The Swans have a solid defence, led by Rob Eddy, but look outgunned in most positions. But their form is as good as any and they should take it up to the reigning premiers.
It is strange to think these sides are yet to face off this season. Sawtell’s strong head-to-head record against the Swans in recent clashes could well have a bearing on the result.
North Coffs v Port Macquarie
Down the road at the Coffs Coast Leisure Park, two traditional combatants face off with different aims in mind.
The Kangaroos are almost certain to finish top of the ladder. They flogged Nambucca Valley last start with Darren Funston returning to the field with a ten-goal display.
Kudos goes to the club for developing their young players. In an eye for the future, Brendan Norton and Levi Sands debuted last week and although both play in the Under 16 competition, are likely types at a senior level.
Port will have to be accountable and effectively man-up in the midfield. Letting Sam Dawes and Brad Giri running free is not a good formula for success.
They must also consider Jordan O’Connor who is a fast, tall target up forward, while Tom Merrick and Tim Heather provide pace out wide.
Magpies’ duo, Shannon Skreja and Tim Donohue will add to the physicality of the contest.
Dean Nankervill created some problems up forward against the Swans, and will need to have his best game of the season, along with Matthew Lill who is a key in the middle.
The Magpies has been improving each week and knocked off the ‘Roos around this time last year. It will be a bigger shock if they win this time around. They lack the spark of previous seasons and will most likely see themselves out of the top four after Saturday afternoon.
Grafton v Nambucca Valley
Grafton will start strong favourites in the battle between the bottom two sides at Ellem Oval, and are queueing up to replace the Magpies in the four.
They would have favoured themselves in knocking off Sawtell but gave them too much of a head start.
The Tigers need to hit their straps very soon with some consistent results to make inroads against sides in the top four. For this to occur, the class of Daniel Zacek and Tim Davis need support from the core.
The Lions have battled all year and will continue to do so until they can turn on a better four-quarter display.
The depth is not there this year to support the class provided by Jim Angel and Ray McGrath.
They will enjoy the trip but will struggle to match it with Grafton, who need to set the wheels in motion if they harbour serious aspirations of progressing towards the finals.