Breakers claim Minor Premiership
A win against their fiercest rivals has wrapped up the second straight Minor Premiership for Coffs Breakers who now firm into premiership favouritism.
The 69 point win over the Sawtell Toormina Saints represents Breakers biggest win against the reigning premiers and the first time that the Coffs Harbour team has come out in front on the head to head count during the home and away season. These records won’t mean much though if the Breakers don’t kick on and claim their maiden premiership win.
Breakers started fast and were out to a 3 goal lead at quarter time. The damage was really done in the second quarter when the home team booted 6 goals to 1 to extend the lead to 47 points at the main break. Running players Royce Close, Chris Frangos, Tyrone Jones, Harry Parker, and Luke Symons were doing most of the damage as they streamed out of the middle of the ground and delivered into the forward line for Gabe Ellicott, Fraser Duryea, and Darcy Donnelly to take full toll.
The Saints regrouped at half time and steadied to peg back the lead by 3 points in the third quarter. Whilst Sawtell’s play improved dramatically, the reduction in the lead was as much about inaccurate finishing by the Breakers who had 6 scoring shots to Sawtell’s 4 for the quarter.
That was to be the last of the highlights for the Saints as the breakers unleashed a further scoring blitz in the final term. The quality service from the midfield continued and the Breakers forwards got their radars working again to post 6 goals to 2 for the quarter.
Duryea, Ellicott, and Donnelly all landed 3 majors, while Nick Stanlan-Velt added 2 and seven other players each contributed one.
The Saints were best served by the versatile Courtney Tune, Mitchell Napier, and the ever reliable Mark Couzens. Napier and Dan Pritchard each kicked 2 goals on a day when the forward line was starved of the service it needed to be able to pose a serious threat.
Coffs Breakers 18.10.118 defeated Sawtell Toormina Saints 7.7.49
Port Macquarie Magpie’s win over the Grafton Tigers sees them coming into a promising vein of form at exactly the right time as they start to loom as dark horses in the premiership race.
The 9 goal win wasn’t quite as comfortable as the scoreline would suggest as Grafton’s inability to kick straight in front of goal gave a flattering look to the final scoreline. Much of the general play was quite even between the two teams but Port finished their chances much better and took advantage of having 16 scoring shots to 8 to come away with the win.
By half time the Magpies were 5 goals up off the back of Grafton’s goal kicking woes. The theme continued in the second half as Port converted a further 4 goals against the Tigers 4 behinds to run out winners by 53 points.
Port’s performance was consistent without being spectacular and builds on last week’s narrow loss to Sawtell Toormina Saints. The Magpies will be boosted once Jesse Schmidt returns in the Semi Final from concussion and will fancy their chances next week when Sawtell returns to Port Macquarie. The challenge for the Magpies will be to produce their best form at C.ex Coffs International Stadium if they want to go deep into the Finals Series.
In recent weeks Port have converted the ever reliable Craig Dicker into a key forward and he was able to slot 3 goals. Fraser Carroll also managed 3 goals and Adam Mannes added 2 as Port eased to victory.
Grafton know that they have to find a way to lift if they’re to extend their season beyond the Semi Final when they will face the Magpies again. This performance gives them an indication that they can fare better on neutral territory if they can just put their strongest team on the park. This has been the challenge all season and is unlikely to change in the next fortnight.
Pat Curtain was dominant in the middle of the ground for the Tigers whilst Luke Stanford got his hands on plenty of ball and provided quality distribution all match.
Port Macquarie Magpies 9.7.61 defeated Grafton Tigers 0.8.8
Next week is the last of the home and away rounds and represents the last chance for teams to tune up before the pressure and intensity go up a notch. Grafton Tigers are at home against Coffs Breakers, whilst Sawtell Toormina Saints travel to Port Macquarie to take on the Magpies.