Swans and Magpies battle for early supremacy

Port Macquarie travels to Oakes Oval to face the Lismore Swans on Saturday. Photo: Green Shoots Marketing

HAVING both recorded opening round victories, either the Lismore Swans or Port Macquarie will get a jump on the majority of the senior competition if they can win at Oakes Oval on Saturday.

The Swans sit on top of the ladder courtesy of their large win over Casino last week but coach Ashley Pritchard said he’s looking forward to seeing how his team goes against Port Macquarie.

“We’re going to get an opportunity to see us play against one of the stronger teams in the competition,” Pritchard said.

“Now we’ll see if we can step up but I’ve got tremendous faith in my players.”

After winning just one match in 2020, the Magpies were thrilled to get the win last week against Nambucca Valley but face what is now the longest road trip in the competition.

If Port Macquarie can travel the 359km from Wayne Richards Park to Oakes Oval and collect the four points, they will well and truly be announcing themselves as a contender.

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Northern Beaches Blues player Chris Frangos during the Festival of Footy 21. Photo: Green Shoots Marketing

THE 16 year wait for a senior Woolgoolga AFL men’s team to play at Centennial Oval is over.

The Northern Beaches Blues will be playing their first home match of the year on Saturday when they face the Coffs Breakers.

Blues coach Rory Evans said the team is looking forward to once again playing at home.

“It’s a really big thing the first home game back in the seniors so we’re hoping to see everyone get along,” Evans said.

“Obviously it’s good to come off the strong result from last week as well because it will give us a fair bit of confidence and we’ll get up for the game.”

After missing last week’s opening match, Chris Frangos will be playing his first game for his new club on Saturday. A contest that just so happens to be against his old club.

Coffs Breakers coach Kevin Wilson said his team is enthusiastic about the upcoming contest where they will meet several former teammates who’ve made their way to the Blues over the summer. He did add though that a win at this early stage shouldn’t be seen as the be all and end all.

“The boys will be a lot better this week after getting a run under their belt but we’ve still got another 14 weeks to get our structures in place and learn how to play with each other,” Wilson said.

The Casino Lions will no doubt produce an improved performance in their first home game since 2007. Photo: Green Shoots Marketing

ANOTHER team about to play its first game for many years is the Casino Lions.

The Lions will be at home to reigning premier Grafton. Despite the big loss last week, Lions coach Rod McKey said his team is looking forward to this week’s encounter.

“It’s our first competition game at home since 2007 and we’ve got a fair few old boys coming to the ground to cheer us on,” McKey said.

The Lions will field a stronger line-up this weekend after starting last week’s match with nine of their best 22 missing.

Waiting for them though will be Grafton ruing a missed opportunity to win last week’s nail biter against Northern Beaches.

Grafton coach Adi Campbell is also looking forward to having a stronger team in what is “nearly” a local derby for the Tigers.

“There were seven last week through work and what not that were unavailable, so we’ll have seven players back,” he said.

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Trent Baade will be an important cog in Nambucca Valley’s midfield wheel on Saturday. Photo: Green Shoots Marketing

IT will be a case of old friends catching up to meet again when Nambucca Valley plays at Richardson Park.

The Lions have a number of former Sawtell/Toormina players in their line-up, the majority of them have enjoyed premiership success with the Saints.

One of those players is Nambucca’s playing coach Leif Stuart.

“There’s a couple of old teammates in the Sawtell side and no doubt because of that it will be a spirited contest,” Stuart said.

“We’ve got good connections with a lot of their players, good friendships.”

What Stuart is really hoping for this week is an afternoon with a lot less injury worries. Last week when fatigue set in against Port Macquarie, Stuart was unable to call on any fresh legs due to a number players being ruled out for the rest of the afternoon.

“We had nobody on the bench for most of the second half. We just had no legs,” Stuart lamented.

“We would’ve been able to be a lot closer if we had some extra players.”

Sawtell/Toormina playing coach Brandt Lee said some of the Lions players will feel right at home playing on the Saints’ home ground which should make for an intriguing day.

“I think it will be interesting just because of that relationship we have with them,” Lee said.

“Obviously some past Saints players have gone to that footy club but it will be good to play against some those players we played with in all of those flags a few years ago.”

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 (Sawtell v Grafton; 1.20pm – Reserves (Sawtell v Port); 2.50pm – Seniors)