Tiger time comes to an end

Noah Swarski kicks Grafton into attack during the Tigers' loss to the Coffs Breakers. Photo: Green Shoots Marketing

REIGNING premier Grafton won’t be competing in the 2021 AFL North Coast finals series.

Even before the Tigers match against the top of the ladder Coffs Breakers they needed to win all of their remaining matches and have other results go their way to sneak into the top four.

Saturday’s 68-point loss means there’s no longer a mathematical possibility of finishing fourth for Grafton.

For the Coffs Breakers the result means the exact opposite. With two matches remaining the Breakers can’t be knocked off top spot on the ladder.

The Breakers jumped out of the blocks on Saturday kicking six goals to one in the opening term. That opening burst included debutant Tom Walsh kicking the first goal of the game with his first kick in senior football.

Knowing that their season was on the line Grafton fought back in the second term and winning the contested ball count coupled with an increase of pressure on the opposition helped reduce the margin to 18-points by the time the two teams went into the sheds.

After the break the Breakers showed a ruthless streak and kicked 10 goals to two in the second half.

The victors shared the scoring around with 10 players scoring the goals with Josh Lansdowne the best of them with five. Angus Wood who was the best player on the ground chimed in with two goals of his own.

Breakers coach Kevin Wilson said it was good that his team had learned from their previous match against Grafton. Earlier in the season Coffs got away to a quick start only to worry more about the opposition while Grafton fought back to nearly cause an upset. This result was different which pleased the coach.

“It was good that we maintained our composure in the second half,”  Wilson said.

“There were some calm heads in the sheds at half time and assistant coach Matt Dagger was one of those.”

COFFS BREAKERS 6.3 8.4 13.7 18.10 (118)
GRAFTON 1.1 5.4 6.7 7.8 (50)
Goals – Coffs: J.Lansdowne 5, B.Neary 2, A.Wood 2, N.Stanlan-Velt 2, T.Walsh 2, A.Wallace, D.Homan, L.Beacom, H.Cekanauskas, L.Reid. Graf: S.Morrison 3, B.Nelson 2, D.Lovell, M.Luxton.
Reserves: Coffs Breakers 17.10 (112) def Grafton 0.2 (2)
Under-17s: Grafton 19.14 (128) def Coffs Breakers 4.6 (30)

Sawtell/Toormina’s Darryn Ragless escapes the clutches of a Port Macquarie opponent. Photo: Green Shoots Marketing

Saints win a thriller

SAWTELL/TOORMINA has moved into the top four with a three-point win over fellow finals aspirant Port Macquarie.

It was a contest the Saints looked in control of for the majority of the match, particularly after they turned an eight point deficit at quarter time into a 15-point lead at the main break.

The margin stayed around that mark for most of the second half until the Magpies kicked two late goals to get to within a kick of the home team.

Port Macquarie’s coach Matt Clarke admitted he found it hard to believe at times that his team was still within reach of being able to steal a win.

“Every time I looked at the scoreboard I was surprised because I thought they (Sawtell/Toormina) were so much more ahead of us just because of the energy that our team was creating. It seemed like the energy of a 50-points down team,” Clarke said.

“So I was always surprised when I looked at it which just shows that that loss was on us. It had something to do with the opposition but that was well within our grasp.”

Royce Close was always dangerous for the Magpies inside Port’s attacking 50 and he scored three goals to be among the team’s best along with Braden Saggers who was busy around the ground and also kicked two goals himself.

Sawtell/Toormina was best served in front of goal by Darrn Ragless who kicked four goals. Ragless has only played the last three matches for the Saints but has proven a dangerous weapon in front of the big sticks kicking a total of 15 goals so far.

In a difficult match to play due to a strong wind pushing play almost exclusively over to the eastern side of Richardson Park, Saints playing coach Brandt Lee said his team’s ability to roll its sleeves up and get to work now matter how hard might’ve proved the difference.

“When it’s time to dig deep our group just knows how to,” Lee said.

“We knew the situation we were in ladder wise and finals are only a sniff away so we’re building to play our best footy looking forward toward that but we knew there were obstacles in the way to be able to get there and this (the match against Port) was a major one. We knew the situation and we just dug deep and we were really pushing for that win to set us up for a finals spot.”

SAWTELL TOORMINA 2.2 8.3 11.4 13.7 (85)
PORT MACQUARIE 3.4 5.6 8.9 12.10 (82)
Goals – Saw: D.Ragless 4, J.Perks 3, W.Lloyd, L.Matthews, B.Cox, S.Schellenberger, C.Perks, K.Upsall. Port: R.Close 3, T.Dickson 2, B.Saggers 2, J.Hall 2, N.Cameron-Hancock, L.Pratt, A.Pratt.
Reserves: Sawtell/Toormina 7.3 (45) def Port Macquarie 2.4 (16)

Braden Saggers looks for a teammate to handpass to against Sawtell/Toormina. Photo: Green Shoots Marketing

Swans now have a chance to fly higher

THE Lismore Swans have themselves a chance of finishing the season with a coveted double chance after winning a hard fought battle against Northern Beaches.

The Swans dominated the first half of the contest at Oakes Oval and built a commanding 32-point lead by half time. A margin that should’ve been greater considering at that stage the Swans had 15 scoring shots on the board compared to just three from Northern Beaches.

When the Blues came out of the sheds after the break they had renewed vigour and changed a few things up to kick three unanswered goals in the third term to reduce the margin to 14 points.

The home team steadied in the last and secured the important four points.

Northern Beaches coach Rory Evans said the Blues were missing important defenders Danniel Johnson and Daley Bear but refused to say that was the reason for the result.

“They just played better than us in the first half and we couldn’t quite claw it back,” Evans said.

“We did a good job to get close because at half time they (Lismore) were well in front.”

This weekend Northern Beaches plays a catch-up game against Sawtell/Toormina. If the Saints beat the Blues like they did only a couple of weeks ago, the Swans will then move up to second position on the ladder.

LISMORE SWANS 4.6 6.9 6.11 8.15 (63)
NORTHERN BEACHES 2.0 2.1 5.3 6.6 (42)

The defence of the Casino Lions was forced to work hard by Nambucca Valley. Photo: Paul Taylor

Big win for Nambucca

NAMBUCCA Valley has recorded its greatest winning margin in its senior history with a 103-point win over the Casino Lions.

Playing in their final home game for the season, the Nambucca team bared its claws after quarter time.

At the first break the margin was just 13-points and few at that stage were brave enough to predict a large margin. Especially after Casino’s leading goalkicker Tim Myers booted a major early in the second term.

But in the second and third quarters Nambucca Valley kicked 12 goals to Casio’s one and the margin had ballooned out to 82-points.

Four goals from veteran Jim Angel and two each from Aaron Clarke and Heath Galvin formed the basis for Nambucca’s highest score of the year.

Casino will travel to Port Macquarie this weekend for a catch-up game before playing another away game at Woolgoolga and finishing the season with a home game against the Coffs Breakers.

NAMBUCCA VALLEY 2.3 7.7 14.8 18.13 (121)
CASINO LIONS 0.2 1.2 1.4 2.6 (18)
Goals – N.V: J.Angel 4, A.Clarke 2, H.Galvin 2, E.Linares, H.Suridge, J.McGregor, K.Cohen, B.Toohey, T.Morris, B.Venner, A.Boatfield, D.McInerney, H.Lee. Cas: T.Myers 2.


Coffs Breakers 12 11 0 1 91.67 1193 629 189.67
Northern Beaches 11 7 1 3 68.18 813 562 144.66
Lismore Swans 12 8 0 4 66.67 1277 587 217.55
Sawtell/Toormina 11 7 0 4 63.63 911 756 120.50
Port Macquarie 11 6 0 5 54.54 994 787 126.30
Grafton 12 4 1 7 37.50 1084 916 118.34
Nambucca Valley 12 2 0 10 16.67 535 1035 51.69
Casino Lions 11 0 0 11 0.00 292 1827 15.98

CATCH-UP ROUND – Saturday, July 24

NORTHERN BEACHES vs SAWTELL/TOORMINA at Centennial Oval, Woolgoolga
(11.50am – Women; 1.20pm – Reserves; 2.50pm – Seniors)
PORT MACQUARIE vs CASINO LIONS at Wayne Richards Park, Port Macquarie
(2.50pm – Seniors)


GLEN INNES vs GRAFTON at King George V Oval, Glen Innes (10am)
INVERELL SAINTS vs SAWTELL/TOORMINA at Varley Oval, Inverell (10am)
COFFS BREAKERS vs TAMWORTH ROOSTERS at Fitzroy Oval/Old Camp, Coffs Harbour (11.30am)

Coffs Breakers utility Hayden Cekanauskas lays a strong tackle against Grafton. Photo: Green Shoots Marketing