Senior Competition returns
Action resumes in the Senior Competition after the long weekend hiatus, with all four clubs looking to make maximum impact ahead of the representative fixture.
Positions 1 and 2 on the ladder go head to head as the local derby pits Sawtell Toormina Saints against Coffs Harbour Breakers at Richardson Park.
Sawtell will be looking to keep their unbeaten run going. The mid-season addition of stalwarts Jim Angel, Hamish Bird, and Luke Matthews has proven invaluable and the influence that these three are able to exert on games will only grow as their match fitness increases. This will certainly help to offset the impending loss of Aaron Boatfield to travel, as his form on his return to North Coast footy has been excellent.
Breakers have struggled with injuries this season and haven’t been able to stamp the authority they would have wanted on their premiership defence. They find themselves still without Brett Vella who was a key figure in 2017 and will be looking to players like Chris Frangos, Luke Valdes, and Nick Stanlan-Velt to lift the overall team performance. Royce Close’s return from Alice Springs is a welcome boost to a team looking for more firepower.
Port Macquarie Magpies make their second trip of the season to Grafton and will be hoping for a similar outcome to the last outing at Ellem Oval.
The Magpies will have to make do without Tom Marmo after he recently suffered a knee injury at training that should sideline him for four weeks. Marmo has been in impressive form throughout the season and his loss will be keenly felt.
Port have struggled for consistency throughout the season and know that a road trip to Grafton with players unable to travel isn’t the textbook answer to the problem. A win in the previous encounter will provide a blueprint for the approach on match day, whether the club can get enough senior players on the park to ensure adherence to the plan will be key to the outcome.
Grafton Tigers have their own injury problems, with captain/coach Chris Curthoys also suffering a knee injury that should result in a four week lay-off. Callum O’Loughlin is on the way to a return from a hamstring strain but this match is likely to come too soon to allow to take part, whilst Ethan Olsen’s knees rate him a week to week proposition.
The Tigers are seeing more players keen to take to the field than in recent years which is an extremely positive sign, they just need to find enough fit leaders to provide the direction around the park to mount a serious challenge to the other teams.
The Women’s match is between Sawtell Toormina Saints and Coffs Harbour Breakers.
The Saints have had the wood on their local rivals in the inaugural season of the Women’s Competition and have marked themselves as the team to beat. They suffered their only loss of the season in their last start against Port Macquarie when they were understrength, and will have to make do this week without key defender Bec Minichilli and young gun Ahlani Eddy.
Breakers are yet to post their first win in a competitive fixture but the demonstration match against Grafton gave them a much needed confidence boost and resulted in their best showing of the season against Port. Players such as Casey Miosge, Remi Banuelos, and Rani Grant are making their mark and will be boosted by the inclusion of new player Katika Adams.
With places in the inaugural North Coast Force rep team up for grabs it’s a sure thing the women won’t be holding anything back.
Round 8 fixtures – Saturday 16 June
Sawtell Toormina Saints v Coffs Harbour Breakers at Richardson Park, Sawtell (Under 17 at 10:00am, Women at 11:50am, Reserves at 1:20pm, Seniors at 2:50pm)
Grafton Tigers v Port Macquarie Magpies at Ellem Oval, Grafton (Under 17 at 12:30pm, Seniors at 2:20pm)
For full fixture details, click here.