Preview- Finals Wk 3
Local rivals in last chance saloon
Cross-town rivals, North Coffs and the Coffs Swans will battle it out in a Preliminary Final showdown at BCU Stadium on Saturday. This is a dream result for the local league as both sides have a strong following and a big vocal crowd is expected to rock up to BCU to witness another cracking local derby.
The Swans are coming off a disappointing loss against Sawtell last week and will have to be more committed if they are to get up in this one. Meanwhile, the resurgence of the Kangaroos has come at the right end of the season and they look primed for a clash that can see them face off against the in-form Saints on the last Saturday in August.
The Kangaroos hierarchy has been planning for a clash with the Swans and have a few tricks up their sleeves in preparation for the side coming off a disappointing loss last start.
With Brad Giri and Darren Funston looking fresh and putting out strong showings in their Elimination Final clash against Port Macquarie, the Swans will have to step up after being dominated in the clearances against Sawtell. Norths play a similar game to the Saints with close checking and hard tackling which was the undoing of the young Swans.
Funston will be hard to mark up if the ‘Roos adopt the same ploy of starting him in the centre and moving him to half-forward, where he booted five goals. Jordan O’Connor led well up the ground and has fantastic marking ability and will require the attention of a tall defender.
Tom Merrick will be in serious doubt with a hamstring injury and if absent, will be a loss to the running ‘Roos midfield. Sam Dawes is in irrepressible form and it will be interesting to see who the Swans’ line up on him because he demands attention. Dawes’ strong marking and long kicking is well suited to the Stadium’s surrounds and will be a key for the ‘Roos.
Add to this, the Connolly brothers return after missing the first semi and Mick Glaetzer who is hitting form at the right time.
Saying this, the Swans are still a quality side with talent oozing through a lot of their young stars. It is a case of bringing it out on the big stage and staying in the contest for the full duration. All these aspects were sadly lacking against Sawtell. They were too easily pushed off the ball and were not accountable in defence. This will be a real test of character for the young side.
The older brigade will have to step up and lead by example as Dave Colman and Peter Chadwick did last week. Tony Waterfall may have lost his trademark sprint but he is still an important part of the backline and the younger players look to his leadership.
Evan Duryea was under-utilised up forward and might get the close attention of Josh Drum this week. Drum held Jesse Schmidt well in a similar role in his return from injury.
Run and enterprise from the midfield can only be achieved by winning the contested ball. The Swans have to be prepared to get their hands dirty to assist Chadwick and Tristan Snow.
Shane Adams has been impressive across half-forward, whilst Zac Bullivant and Rob Eddy are the keys along with Chadwick and Duryea for the Swans to win.
Its neck up or belly up for the traditional local rivals. The Kangaroos will want to repeat last years’ feats where they knocked the Swans out of the finals race.
There is not much between these two sides and this clash deserves a big crowd. There will be nowhere to hide and a few highly credentialed players have there reputations on the line and a bit to prove. This promises to be another classic contest.
Port to make another Grand Final?
Port Macquarie has not missed a reserves grand final in nine seasons but will have to lift on last week to account for the Coffs Swans.
Experience will be a strong component of both sides, with the Swans having the form leading into the clash.
They held off a spirited comeback from Grafton and have a dedicated crew leading their charge in the finals. Jason Sincock has a smart football brain and will be ably assisted by Damien Elks and Ben Wyld.
Port are used to premiership success and were good at stages last week but were soundly beaten in the middle half of the contest.
Andrew Bagnall was a standout last week, whilst Robert Arantz and Chris Gridley are in form and will get good support from Matthew Long and Gordon Wiegold.
Port have the edge in experience, but it looks like an open race with either side in with a chance in this match.
Search party for young Swans
The Swans did go missing in the Under 18s last week and were comprehensively outplayed by Sawtell who are sitting pretty awaiting the victor of this clash.
The red and whites will have to hold off a strong charge from Nambucca Valley who should rise to the occasion. They are unpredictable but it is such a big moment for the young Lions and the club itself and wouldn't it be great to see them get another shot at the Under 18s flag.
After finishing the season without dropping a game, the Coffs Swans face the real threat of missing the Grand Final if they play like they did last week. Apart from Blake Ford, who was sensational in his first game for two months, the locals lacked discipline and looked slow when they got behind. This was especially the case up forward, where it was hard to know where the next goal was coming from. This will need some re-configuration this week.
The Lions have not played a game for three weeks and will be short of a run but if Justin Saker and Tom McGrath can get them going they could surprise. Tom Haskew will be vital in the ruck, whilst James Boatfield will need to be prominent up forward for the Lions to be a chance.
A lot will depend on what the selectors do with the senior side because the Swans certainly looked ordinary with a couple of stars missing. With a full list they are a dynamic outfit. All paves the way for an interesting clash...
Action kicks off again at 11.00am.