Round 3 Preview
Coffs Swans v North Coffs
Renowned rivals, the Coffs Swans and North Coffs Kangaroos will be looking to continue their impress starts to the season when they clash in front of what expects to be another large crowd at Fitzroy Oval tomorrow.
These sides have some great history and have fought out some spiteful duels in recent contests. Most recently, it was the Kangaroos that turned around their indifferent form around in last year’s Qualifying Final to knock the Swans out of the finals race.
Plenty of water has passed under the bridge since then with new faces joining each club, with the two sides having different lead-ins to the clash.
Both sides are one win apiece and in the four on percentage.
Whilst the ‘Roos had their much anticipated match against the Magpies called off due to wet weather in Port Macquarie, the Swans showed plenty of character to overrun the Saints at home.
Young guns, Evan Duryea and Blake Ford were the best for the Swans in an attacking display after half-time, indicating the hard work and more consistent approach the side has tried to implement during off-season training. Peter Chadwick was again impressive last week, with Dave Coleman getting back into form and Jason Sincock filling a pivotal role floating in defence. They also unveil their other big signing in Mick Glaetzer (ex SANFL reserves) and Jordon O’Connor plays his first game as well.
The Kangaroos will be heavily reliant on new recruit, Sam Dawes to have a major impact out of the centre. Dawes is one of the best players to play on the coast and in the prime of his career. The Swans will know of his potential impact and that of power forward, Darren Funston. Given this, it will be interesting to see who the Swans line up on these two players. One would expect young backman, Zac Bullivant to go to Funston and wouldn’t it be great to see Duryea go toe to toe with Dawes. Graeme Connelly is developing into an accomplished ruckman and will test the Swans in the middle.
It promises to be a classic match and another bruising encounter with honest contributors across the ground for both sides. They both look better and more skillful sides on paper this year.
The Swans have more avenues to goal and will be primed for this clash after a solid hit-out last week.
Another big crowd is expected at Fitzroy Oval with the reserves starting at 1pm.
Grafton v Port Macquarie
If someone two weeks ago asked who would win this match, an informed follower of the league would say Port would win by the length of Melbourne’s odds to win the AFL premiership.
Port Macquarie travel to Ellem Oval this weekend and should not take this too lightly.
Grafton turned around a 250 point loss to a 30 goal slaughtering of the Lions at home, where they will aim to overcome the competition favourites this weekend.
It was a completely different side last week, with Sean Purton kicking 14 goals in a dominant display and the likes of Dale Beaver and Scott Onus returning to run havoc in the midfield.
Dave Gordon in the ruck had a monopoly in the ruck contests, winning clearances and hit-outs at will, stream-lining Grafton’s passage to the goals. Most impressive out of Grafton’s display was their intensity and ability to extend their lead at an exponential rate as the match progressed.
They will be in a totally different league against the Magpies who excel in the midfield, with Matthew Newton, Steve Gluyas and countless others used to dominating in the centre of the ground.
Jesse Schmidt and Jacob Hart were impressive in the opening round and their long kicking and explosive acceleration is very much suited to the short Ellem Oval track. The likes of Ryan Sheather and Mark Blundell may need to play defensive roles to counter the strength and guile the Port forwards possess.
Provided Port brings a reasonable squad they should be too strong but expect Grafton to be a worthy opponent.
Nambucca Valley v Sawtell
Both these sides are coming off disappointing losses last week after promising displays in Round 1.
Nambucca were poor last start, with their discipline and accountability especially letting them down against the Tigers. They continually got murdered out of the centre but were unable to counter their opponents in an insipid display with few players rating a mention. They looked slow and were exposed, even on a smaller field.
Sawtell will be disappointed in letting a potential win fall through their fingers against the Swans after a handy lead at half time. This week’s performance will prove vital in determining how they will fare against Port in the following weeks Grand Final replay. The word is that senior coach, ‘Uncle’ Russ Matthews, has had them on the track until late and that neighbours at Richardson Park have complained about all the noise of grown men in pain until the wee hours.
Tristan McCormack continued his impressive start to the year and looks a handy utility player for coach, Russ Matthews. Daniel Johnson will get plenty of the ball in this contest, as will recruits, Ben Hooke and Matt Elliott, who are all pivotal to Sawtell’s chances this year.
The Lions need more consistent performances from livewire, Ray McGrath and captain-coach, Jim Angel, who is still recovering from pre-season surgery.
I doubt the Saints would want another loss and risk winding up big Russ again. For this reason, Sawtell will win the game easily but need to find worthy targets in front of goal, a component that has been marginally lacking in their game for a while now.