Who will reign supreme in Seniors and Women’s?
After 22 weeks and 128 matches, the AFL North Coast Senior Competition draws to a climax on Saturday with the Grand Finals in all four grades. Only one reigning champion team is in action, so there will be new Premiers declared in at least three of the four grades.
The Senior Grand Final pits the two strongest teams of the season against each other in Coffs Harbour Breakers and Port Macquarie Magpies.
Breakers won the Semi Final two weeks ago which was the last encounter between the two teams. It gave the Coffs outfit a week off leading into the big show which should be a blessing but has actually proven to be a hoodoo over the past three years. On each of these occasions, the rested team has gone on to lose the Grand Final and Breakers coach David Velt will be looking to ensure that his team hits the ground running.
Breakers have been one of the power teams over the past four years and will be looking to claim a second Senior title to underline their dominance in this grade. They will welcome back several players this week to further bolster their chances, headlined by Shaydan Close who has been performing for the Sydney Swans Reserves the past two weeks.
Port Macquarie Magpies find themselves in a Grand Final for the first time since 2015 and are brimming with confidence after last week’s victory in the Preliminary Final. The Magpies club has won three Senior flags since forming in 1981, the last of which came in 2013, so this crop of players will be desperate to be the ones who break the club’s six year premiership drought.
Playing last week was good for Port’s continuity but does mean that several players are feeling the effects of bumps and bruises. Coach Tom Marmo and club physio John Stangherlin will be doing everything in their power to ensure that all players are as close to peak physical condition as possible.
The Women’s match sees a replay of last season’s Grand Final between Port Macquarie Magpies and Sawtell Toormina Saints. Port came out second best on that occasion but take a slight advantage into this match on a head to head basis, where they lead by two wins to one, with a draw included too.
Port had a lean end to the season but really stepped it up in the Semi Final. The Magpies showed just how much they love the big stage by playing their best footy in the last quarter when the match was on the line. Port have key match winners in Cambridge McCormick, Christine Kirby, and Casey Miosge and Sawtell will have to limit the influence that these three can have on the match.
The Saints will be the only reigning Premiers in action on the big day. They brought the kind of intensity that is expected of champion teams to last week’s contest and will be hard to beat if they can replicate that effort. After a season that was severely disrupted by injuries the Saints have all troops on deck and are genuine contenders. Keira Basset, Casey Uikelotu, and Ahlani Eddy are all proven performers on the big stage and will set the tone for their team.
A preview of the Reserve Grade and Under 17 matches will appear online on Friday (6 September).
Senior Grand Finals – Saturday 7 September, C.ex Coffs International Stadium
9:30am Under 17 – Sawtell Toormina Saints v Coffs Harbour Breakers
11:40am Women – Port Macquarie Magpies v Sawtell Toormina Saints
1:30pm Reserves – Northern Beaches Blues v Coffs Harbour Breakers
4:00pm Seniors – Coffs Harbour Breakers v Port Macquarie Magpies