Finals fever hits the Junior Competition
The North Coast gets its first taste of Finals footy for 2019 on Sunday with Junior Semis to be played in both Grafton and Kempsey.
Grafton’s Ellem Oval will host three Major Semis (1 v 2) where a place in the Grand Final goes on the line, as well as one Minor Semi (3 v 4) where one team’s season will draw to a close.
First match of the day in Grafton is the Under 13 Major Semi at 10:00am between the Bellingen Bulldogs and Northern Beaches Blues. These two teams were neck and neck all season and were only separated in the last round when the Dogs poked their noses in front and claimed top spot. This match should be an absolute beauty and is likely to go down to the wire.
This is followed by a Youth Girls double header, with the Minor Semi (11:25am) preceding the Major Semi (12:50pm). The Minor Semi features two teams in their first year of existence in the Bellingen Bulldogs and Sawtell Toormina Saints which is an incredible achievement by both. Bellingen have had a slight advantage over their rivals this season and will be favourites to progress to the Preliminary Final.
The Major Semi pits the undefeated Grafton Tigers against Coffs Harbour Breakers in a re-match of the last two Grand Finals in this age group. The Tigers are expected to progress but will need to deliver and have a home ground advantage to help.
The Under 15 Major Semi Final (2:15pm) is almost a carbon copy of the Youth Girls match. Grafton Tigers go in as favourites on the back of a season without loss, but will have to be wary against reigning Premiers Sawtell Toormina Saints.
At South Kempsey Oval, the day’s action gets underway with an Under 11 double header.
First up is the Major Semi (9:30am) where the Port Macquarie club is guaranteed of having a team in the Grand Final as stablemates the Swoopers and Flyers go head to head. The Swoopers are undefeated in 2019 but the Flyers have pushed them hard in both encounters and this match is expected to be close.
The Minor Semi follows at 10:55am where Nambucca Valley Lions play the Coffs Harbour Breakers. The Lions missed a top two place by percentage only so know they have the capacity to go deep into the Finals but must first overcome the Breakers who are in a rich vein of form. Whichever team progresses will have to earn the right.
The Under 13 Minor Semi (12:20pm) sees Nambucca Valley Lions up against the Port Macquarie Flyers. The Lions have pushed the top two teams all season to narrowly finish third and will go into this match as favourites. The Flyers have already played the equivalent of a couple of Grand Finals just to get into fourth place so are battle hardened and ready to go.
Rounding out the day is the Under 15 Minor Semi (1:45pm) between home town Macleay Valley Eagles and Bellingen Bulldogs. The Eagles have achieved a remarkable turn around of fortunes in the second half of the season and are well placed to progress. These teams played each other two weeks ago at the same venue with the Eagles running out comfortable winners, so the Doggies have a huge task in front of them to overturn that result.
The action will be intriguing so get down to a ground and support the future of footy in the region!