Who will Claim Premiership Glory?
Two teams each looking to create their own slice of history. This is what Saturday’s Grand Final comes down to.
Sawtell Toormina Saints are the three time reigning premiers. With eight flags in twelve years the Saints have been the dominant force in recent times but have never before claimed four premierships in a row. Achieving this feat would see them equal the great North Coffs team from the start of the century and become only the second team in the League’s 35 year history to claim four on the trot. Another flag would see them go to an overall total of ten, placing them one clear of Woolgoolga as the most successful club in League history.
Coffs Breakers are the relative new kids on the block. In its brief three year existence the club has achieved consecutive Minor Premierships in the top grade, and has two Under 18 trophies in the cabinet, but desperately wants to claim its maiden Senior premiership title.
Make no mistake, Saturday’s Grand Final isn’t just about the Premiership Cup. It’s also about perceptions and a potential shift in the balance of power.
Sawtell enjoyed having the break last week. For a team with a number of players just returning from injury lay-offs, the week’s rest meant the perfect opportunity to freshen up and be in peak physical condition for the big show. Their ranks will be boosted by the return of club champion Mark Couzens who was away fighting bushfires, as well as Jack Gillingham who already has two Woodlock Medals as best on ground on Grand Final day.
The Saints will look to inspirational skipper Luke Matthews to win the hard ball and farm it out to Hamish Bird and Danniel Johnson who can open the game up with their penetration. Key forwards Daniel Pritchard and Jim Angel will provide the tall marking options, whilst Malcolm Trotter will be front and centre all day. Matthew Flynn will be the defensive rock, with Callum and Lachie Day looking to shut down key forwards, and Matt Dwyer providing the impetus for the defensive rebound.
Breakers have learnt from last year’s mistakes when they took several players into the decider who were under injury clouds. This year the club is not considering any player that can’t get through two full sessions and will go into the match with a team full of players who are hardened and ready to go. Players such as Chris Frangos, Liam Paige, Nic von Schill, Brett Vella, and Fraser Duryea experienced last season’s heartache and will draw upon that to ensure they show the way when the going gets tough.
The midfield was back on song last week with Jacob Sincock, Luke Symons, and Royce Close all capable of having a strong influence on any match. The forward pairing of Luke Valdes and Nicklaus Stanlan-Velt reduces the reliance on Fraser Duryea to kick goals and lets him come deeper in search of the ball. At the back, Nic von Schill and Nathan Johnson marshal the troops and direct traffic, ensuring that the rest of the defensive unit maintains their composure.
The 2017 Finals Series is yet to see a close game, but all indications are that this is the one that will go down to the wire. With a general bye scheduled in the AFL this is the perfect chance to get your footy fix!
AFL North Coast Grand Finals – Saturday 2 September at C.ex Coffs International Stadium
10:30am – Under 18: Grafton Tigers v Coffs Breakers
12:20pm – Reserves: Coffs Breakers v Sawtell Toormina Saints
2:10pm – Women’s exhibition: Mid North Coast v North Coast
3:10pm – Seniors: Sawtell Toormina Saints v Coffs Breakers