Both Breakers and Blues begin brilliantly

Cassidy Ronalds of the Coffs Breakers looks for a teammate to pass to. Photo: Green Shoots Marketing

IF the first handball doesn’t force the opposition to start chasing, the second handball probably will.

Reigning premiers the Coffs Breakers showed they haven’t rested on their laurels over summer with improved ball movement a key reason behind their 62-point win over Sawtell/Toormina.

On their way to last year’s premiership the Breakers were able to find a teammate with a handball before trying to roost a kick further up the field. On Saturday the Breakers had even more time to deliver a kick after sometimes linking up with a second handball before putting ball to boot.

It was a part of the match that pleased coach Brad Giri.

“It’s helping to create space and there’s plenty of space out there. It’s something we’ve worked on at training because we realised last year our link up play worked really well now we’re trying to do it a little bit better,” Giri said.

“It’s pleasing to see that they’re doing it from Round 1.”

Despite the large margin, the Breakers didn’t have everything go their own way.

When Sawtell/Toormina kicked a goal late in the second quarter through Kareena Johnson, it was reward for a period of play where the Saints managed to get into an arm wrestle with the Breakers. The goal reduced the margin to just 16 points at half time.

After the main break the Breakers clicked up another gear and midfielder Cassidy Ronalds picked up plenty of possessions to earn the medal awarded to the best player on the ground.

Amy Johanson loves kicking a goal and her season has started strongly after scoring three majors.

Coffs Breakers 10.8 (68) def Sawtell/Toormina 1.0 (6)
Goals – Breakers: A.Johanson 3, T.Kachel 2, C.Ronalds, I.Brown, R.Goodenough, T.Arnold, D.Watson. S/T: K.Johnson.

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Tarryn Arnold gets a handball away for the Coffs Breakers despite pressure from Sawtell/Toormina’s Sara Smith Lester. Photo: Green Shoots Marketing

ON the surface, Grafton’s first ever match in the AFL North Coast competition didn’t go well as it failed to score against last year’s grand finalist the Northern Beaches.

But scratch beneath that surface a little and the Tigers are taking a lot of positives from the 60-point loss.

“They really did so well and all credit to them. It was a tough start but the girls haven’t played women’s football before at all. A lot of the girls are up from the youth girls,” Grafton team manager Chris Goodall said.

“It started off a bit rough but in the last quarter Woopi (Northern Beaches) only scored one goal and a point against them.

“So if you look at that across four quarters that’s pretty good.”

The Blues jumped out of the blocks quickly with seven scoring shots in each of the first two quarters to have 5.9 (39) on the board at the long interval.

Rachel Bennet and Britt Hargreaves both scored two goals for the victors who showed they’ve picked up where they left off at the end of season 2020.

Despite the strong opposition the Tigers never threw in the towel and coach Warren Bagnall said the message to the team leading up to the club’s debut in the women’s competition was a simple one.

“Enjoy your footy. If you don’t know anything about it, learn from your mistakes and just enjoy footy,” Bagnall said.

“Mistakes will get made and don’t worry about it.”

Northern Beaches 8.12 (60) def Grafton 0.0 (0)
Goals – N.B: R.Bennett 2, B.Hargreaves 2, J.Midavaine, A.Farrell, G.Cardillo. Graf: Nil.

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ROUND 2 – Saturday, May 1
Northern Beaches v Coffs Breakers at Centennial Oval, Woolgoolga
(11.50am – Women; 1.20pm – Reserves; 2.50pm – Seniors)
Lismore Swans v Port Macquarie at Oakes Oval, Lismore
(1.20pm – Women; 2.50pm – Seniors)
Casino v Grafton at Queen Elizabeth Park, Casino
(2.50pm – Seniors)
Sawtell/Toormina v Nambucca Valley at Richardson Park, Sawtell
(10.00am – Under-17s; 1.20pm – Reserves; 2.50pm – Seniors)

Grafton made its first foray into the women’s competition on Saturday when the Tigers played against Northern Beaches at Ellem Oval. Photo: Paul Taylor