Mouth watering clashes in round 3 of Seniors

The scene is set for the biggest clash of the season to date when the two unbeaten teams face off against each other.

Port Macquarie Magpies and Coffs Harbour Breakers have been untroubled in dispatching Sawtell Toormina Saints and Grafton Tigers in the opening two rounds. Both clubs know that Saturday’s match will be by far their toughest test of the season and will establish the winner as the early favourite for premiership glory.

Breakers have the advantage of playing at home and will be hoping to attract another large and raucous crowd to get behind them as happened last week in the local derby. Key forwards Ben Gibbeson and Nick Stanlan-Velt have been in great form, Chris Frangos has been a key in the midfield battles, and captain Billy Mapleson has led the backline with aplomb.

Magpies coach Tom Marmo is seeing his team reap the benefits of a positive team culture that’s focused on their own efforts. Jesse Schmidt is injury free for the first time in several years and is leading the League goal kicking charts. Kye Wilson and Kyle Bray have been impressive in the ruck contests and are providing a constant supply of quality ball for players such as George Maguire and Max Milligan.

At Richardson Park, Sawtell, the Saints and Tigers both know that this round three clash represents their best chance to get their season moving in a forward direction.

Reigning premiers Sawtell have had an exodus from the team that won the flag and coach Brandt Lee has had to plug gaps by handing debuts to a group of talented 16 and 17 year olds. Players such as Alex Pyke, Angus Anderson, Ronan Singleton, and Tyler Donovan are finding their feet quickly but it is the lack of experienced, hardened Senior players where the Saints are impacted the most.

Grafton find themselves in the midst of another rebuilding season, made all the tougher by the short term absence of coach Chris Curtoys and young gun Evan Whitty. Much the same as the Saints, Grafton have quality youngsters in Ronan Leslie, Kade Bagnall, and Clancy O’Neill but need a sprinkling of experienced heads to really see team performance lift.

In the Women’s competition, premiership fancies Port Magpies pose a formidable challenge for the Breakers.

The Coffs team has shown positive signs in the first two rounds and are destined for a more productive season in 2019. Cassidy Ronalds proved her value to the team last week, with her absence in the second half to attend state trials being one of the key factors that saw their opponents run away with the match. Tarryn Arnold is in her debut season and has marked herself as one to watch with her tenacity at the ball and the way she accumulates possessions.

Port have a depth of player quality that ensures they will go into most matches as favourites. Cambridge McCormick continues to lead the way with players such as Fi Bagley, Beth Rennes, Casey Miosge, and Anishah Burnes ensuring that there are quality options in all positions.

Reigning Women’s premiers Sawtell are far from a one woman team, but stopping Keira Basset’s avenue to goal will be key for the Northern Beaches/Grafton.

Basset booted nine majors last week to underline the threat she poses. It is likely that Rani Grant will get the job of matching up against her, but the Blue Tigers also need to stop the supply out of midfield that comes from players such as Ahlani Eddy and Casey Uikelotu.

Northern Beaches/Grafton learnt a lot from their tough trip to Port Macquarie last week but will also face the challenge of backing up two weeks in a row for the first time. This isn’t a new concept for experienced players in Grant, Ashleigh Miller, Deanna Paul, Britt Hargreaves, and Rachel Wilson so the team will be looking to these players to set the tone.

Round 3 fixtures – Saturday 4 May

Sawtell Toormina Saints v Grafton Tigers / Northern Beaches Blues at Richardson Park, Sawtell (Under 17  at 10:00am, Women at 11:50am, Reserves at 1:20pm, Seniors at 2:50pm)

Coffs Harbour Breakers v Port Macquarie Magpies at Fitzroy Oval, Coffs Harbour (Under 17 at 10:00am, Women at 11:50am, Reserves at 1:20pm, Seniors at 2:50pm)

For full fixture details, click here.