Tigers and Saints take out lower grade flags
Grafton Tigers are the Under 18 Premiers for 2017, whilst Sawtell Toormina Saints made it three Reserve Grade flags in a row.
The Grafton Tigers five year AFL North Coast Premiership drought has been broken by the club’s Under 18 team which claimed a nail biting win over Coffs Breakers.
The young Tigers started slowly, suggesting they were feeling the effects of the week off. The effort and endeavour was there, but the free flowing combinations of the Semi Final were missing, and Breakers jumped to an early lead. A goal to Breakers via Aden van Ryswyk right on quarter time saw them out to a handy 17 point lead at the first break.
Grafton started to kick into gear in the second and had the better of the scoring opportunities, but inaccurate kicking meant they weren’t getting full reward for their efforts. The half time margin was reduced to nine points but the Tigers should really have had their noses in front, with only two of their seven scoring efforts sailing between the big sticks.
Two early goals in the third term to Evan Whitty and Lachie Glover saw the Tigers poke their noses in front for the first time in the match. Goal kicking woes provided a frustration for the remainder of the quarter as Grafton were unable to add further majors, and Breakers tied things up with a goal to Will Chadwick. A towering mark at the top of the goal square to Breakers’ Sean O’Reilly resulted in a goal and gave Breakers a six point lead at the last break.
The last quarter was a thriller as each side strove to land the decisive blow. Aden van Ryswyk landed his third goal of the match to extend Breakers lead and it looked as if Aiden Wallace would seal the match as he galloped into the forward 50m but a desperate chase and dive from Jarrad Richards saw him catch the back of Wallace’s jumper and save what looked like a certain goal.
With just three minutes to go the Tigers were trailing by ten points having only managed to land four behinds for the quarter. Just as it looked as though the match was gone Hamish Ellem stepped up to coolly slot a goal from distance to reduce the margin to four points and bring the crowd to the edge of their seats.
With just 77 seconds to go in the match it was Ellem who proved to be the match winner for the Tigers, converting his second of the quarter and third of the match with a left foot snap that saw Grafton home by two points.
Damien Dickson from Coffs Breakers was awarded the Nathan Harris Medal for Best on Ground.
Grafton Tigers 7.16. 58 defeated Coffs Breakers 8.8.56
Reserve Grade saw the Sawtell Toormina Saints prevail over the Breakers in a low scoring arm wrestle of a match.
Such was the closeness of the contest that the first three quarters produced a combined total of four goals kicked, with the third quarter being the only term that saw multiple goals. Sawtell had a real chance to make a decisive break in the third term but scoring one goal, seven behinds left the door open for Breakers to reel in the eight point deficit heading into the last quarter.
Whatever coach Dan Pritchard said to the Saints at the last break did the trick as their scoring woes were dispatched and they booted three straight goals for the term. Breakers were only able to muster three behinds in reply and the Saints eased away to a 23 point win to claim their third straight Reserve Grade Premiership.
Saints’ stalwart Lachlan Draper-Bell was the recipient of the medal for being Best on Ground.
Sawtell Toormina Saints 5.10.40 defeated Coffs Breakers 2.5.17