Second Semi-Final Preview
Sawtell/Toormina v North Coffs
The top two sides in Sawtell and North Coffs will face off in the second semi-final at BCU Stadium for a streamlined passage through to the Grand Final.
There is a lot in common between these cross-town rivals. Both teams are in ominous form after strong finishes to the regular season. Their head-to-head record this season is one-all which is coincidentally the only loss either side has posted in 2009.
Sawtell are aiming for their fifth straight Grand-Final. The Saints won their last encounter Round 11 and since then, have been in impeccable touch. Their depth is unrivalled with a good blend of youth and experience across the park.
Mark Couzens has enjoyed a glittered career and his form this season speaks volumes about his playing ability, as well as his leadership. Luke and Todd Matthews have strong winning records in finals and will form the basis of the Saints attacking thrusts.
Sawtell coach, Russ Matthews possesses a plethora of options as to the structure of his side. Daniel Pritchard and Jai Hardy are capable at executing run-with roles, whilst Daniel Johnson is a potential swing-man such is his ability to create drive with his penetrating left foot. Matt Elliott and Elliott Schmidt are amongst those, along with Johnson, who will enjoy the wide expanses of BCU.
North Coffs have been just as impressive with dominant wins against the Swans and Port highlighting their preparations over the last month.
Sam Dawes, Darren Funston and Brad Giri headline a stellar midfield which will need to be at their best to slow the Saints ball movement. The trio look ready to hit their straps after interrupted seasons. The 'Roos will be able to field some fresh Under 18 talent now they have been eliminated from the finals race. Jack Campbell, Alex Delves and Levi Sands could potentially find their way into the main squad.
Jordan O’Connor and Trent Cook will again be pivotal in attack for the Kangaroos. Their work rate in attack and defensive pressure has helped the side average 119 points this season.
Their opponents, in comparison, have been ruthless in averaging 20 more points in attack in their twelve matches. Ben Hooke is the leading goalkicker in the competition, and again, has found reliable allies in Les Cohen, and Dave Meyers, since his return from suspension.
The one-on-one duels will be pivotal in deciding the result. Josh Drum has been given the job on Hooke in recent encounters and has done a reasonable job. With the likes of Couzens and Matthews commonly finding their way onto the scoresheet, the Kangaroos will need to be accountable in the midfield and across half-back.
In the ruck, Mathew Quinlan will need to play his best game since joining the competition this year. Quinlan faces off against Courtney Tune, who has slipped back into the side nicely and is a presence up forward, as well as in the centre contests.
Neither side will want to risk facing Port Macquarie after they posted another strong finals win last weekend against the Swans. With a week off, the Magpies will be ready to unleash against the loser of this contest.
With only percentage separating the two sides after the end of the regular season, one can expect a torrid and close encounter with the victor favourite to take out this year’s premiership.
SECOND SEMI-FINAL at BCU Stadium
2.30pm (Seniors)- Sawtell/Toormina v North Coffs
12.50pm (Reserves)- Coffs Swans v Port Macquarie
11.00am (Under 18s)- Sawtell/Toormina v Coffs Swans