Wayward Swans continue winning ways

Andrew Baker flies high for the Lismore Swans in the win over Port Macquarie. Photo: Adrian Etherson Photography

The Lismore Swans maintained their position at the top of the AFL North Coast ladder after an emphatic 85-point win over Port Macquarie.

The Magpies faced the longest road trip in the competition, some 358km, and the distance and the opposition proved too great to overcome.
The Swans winning margin could’ve been even greater if it weren’t for wayward kicking in front of goal.
At quarter time the Swans had recorded 16 scoring shots to Port Macquarie’s three but a scoreline of 5.11 to 3.0 meant the Swans led by just 23 points.
It didn’t prove costly although there’ll probably be some added goalkicking practice at training this week.
Leading goalkicker Andrew Baker was the main culprit. He kicked five of the Swans’18 goals but it could’ve been so much more if he didn’t kick 10 behinds to go with it. Fiull forward Mathew Schafer was also wasteful in front of goal kicking 3.5.
“The funny thing is we do a lot of goalkicking practice after training,” Swans coach Ashley Pritchard said.
“At the end of every training session we spend about 15 to 20 minutes having shots for goal.”
Lismore Swans 18.29 (137) def Port Macquarie 8.4 (52)
Goals – Swans: A.Baker 5, S.Smith 3, M.Schafer 3, T.Mowbray 2, J.Nicholls 2, J.Ashby, H.Ashby, E.McNutt. Port: J.Embling 2, R.Close, A.Byrne, J.Mawson Gulliford, T.Kelly, S.Soper, K.Taylor.
Best – Swans: J.Nicholls, J.McKenzie-Edwards, R.Richardson, A.Baker, H.Ashby, J.Ashby. Port: B. Saggers, R. Sonogan, T. Kelly.
Coffs Breakers are also undefeated after two rounds, proving too strong for new local rival the Northern Beaches.
A large crowd converged on Centennial Oval for the Blues’ first senior home game since 2006 but it was the Breakers who proved the stronger, particularly after half time.
Breakers coach Kevin Wilson said the longer the game went the better his team performed in the slippery conditions.

“It was a hard fought battle at the start and they (Northern Beaches) put a lot of pressure on us and it stifled us a little bit but as the game went on I think the boys got better and got used to each other and started to move the ball,” Wilson said.

“Again I think our fitness came out and shone.”

Yellow cards proved costly for the Blues as the Breakers moved further ahead while holding the numerical advantage. Northern Beaches coach Rory Evans lamented the costly errors of judgement but said it also spoke just as much about the Breakers as it did his own team.

“They (Coffs Breakers) played well. They played better than us and that frustrated us to the point where we became undisciplined,” he said.

“That’s probably the ultimate compliment to them that they did. They played well enough to frustrate us into doing what we don’t want to do.”

Evans was full of praise for the opposition but saw silver linings in the defeat.

“The perspective is, and I know this is a bit of a cliché, but we’d rather do this in round two,” Evans said.

“A lot of positives and the negatives probably speak for themselves but there’s still a lot of positives. We won the second quarter and when we did the things that we wanted to do, it worked pretty well.

“That said, they (Coffs Breakers) played really well. They spread really well, they got out of the contest really well and that hurt us. Likewise we didn’t do that and because we didn’t, our ball movement was a bit slow and we didn’t give our forwards much of an option when it did go down there.”

Coffs Breakers 15.11 (101) def Northern Beaches 8.11 (59)

Nambucca Valley couldn’t escape the clutches of Sawtell/Toormina on Saturday. Photo: Green Shoots Marketing

Nambucca Valley suffered under a weight of numbers in its clash against Sawtell/Toormina.
The Lions couldn’t field anybody on its bench as a mounting early season injury list takes its toll. Be that as it may the Lions never dropped their heads at any stage.
Nambucca Valley coach Leif Stuart said he’d expect nothing less from his football club.

“We’re always positive, that’s what our club culture is all about,” Stuart said.

“We never drop our heads no matter what the score is. I think we stopped looking at the scoreboard at half time.

“No matter what stage of the game, no matter how many players we’ve got, we always give 100 per cent.”

The Saints put their foot down to ensure the victory before loaning a couple of players to the Nambucca team in the second half to ensure the match remained a contest.
Sawtell/Toormina playing coach Brandt Lee said it was the right thing to do for everybody involved.

“We just wanted to make a proper game out of it so we ended up helping Nambucca out and lending them a couple of players,” Lee said.

“The last thing you want to do is ask the boys to come down here and play 18-on-14 and flog a team. You don’t get anything out of it doing that.”

With the numbers evened up and some extra space on the ground now that it was 16-a-side, Lee was happier with his team’s second half performance.

“At half time I was pretty disappointed. Yes we were up by a fair bit but we weren’t playing our best footy. I said to the boys we’ve got into those habits and going through the motions so let’s gets something out of this game, kick into gear and start playing our brand of football,”

“We definitely did that in the second half. The system that we had going in the second half definitely is something that we’re going to put in to place for the weeks to come.”

Sawtell/Toormina 18.20 (128) def Nambucca Valley 0.1 (1)

Sawtell/Toormina’s Luke Neal gets a kick away against Nambucca Valley. Photo: Green Shoots Marketing

The encounter at Casino between the Lions and Grafton wasn’t much of a contest. The Tigers won easily kicking a large total of 34.26 (230).
Although there was a large margin, Grafton coach Adi Campbell said the Casino team should be proud of their efforts.
“It wasn’t a walk in the park, they put a lot of pressure on us,” Campbell said.
“The scores didn’t show the way that the game was played.”
Grafton’s biggest goal kicker was 17 year-old Tommy Mullins who was playing just his second game of senior football. Mullins stands at just five and a half feet in the old scale but his diminutive size didn’t stop him from kicking eight goals.
Aaron Ashby kicked five goals of his own for the victors.
Grafton 34.26 (230) def Casino Lions 1.3 (9)
NEXT WEEK – ROUND 3 – Saturday, May 8
GRAFTON vs LISMORE SWANS at Ellem Oval, Grafton
(Under-17s – 10am (Graf vs Breakers); Women – 1.20pm; Seniors – 2.50pm)
NORTHERN BEACHES vs SAWTELL/TOORMINA at Centennial Oval, Woolgoolga
(Women – 11.50am; Reserves – 1.20pm; Seniors – 2.50pm)
CASINO LIONS vs PORT MACQUARIE at Queen Elizabeth Park, Casino
(Seniors – 2.50pm)
COFFS BREAKERS vs NAMBUCCA VALLEY at Fitzroy Oval, Coffs Harbour
(Seniors – 2.50pm)