Blues on home deck are tough to beat

Northern Beaches defender Danniel Johnson takes a strong mark against Sawtell/Toormina. Photo: Green Shoots Marketing

THE Northern Beaches boys know how tight the race for second spot on the ladder has become. Just ask their coach Rory Evans.

“We can fall as low as fourth potentially but we can also take second,” Evans said.

And this Saturday’s match at Woolgoolga between the Blues and Sawtell/Toormina doesn’t just have serious ramifications for the two combatants. The Lismore Swans who are enjoying a weekend off will be hoping for a Saints win to help their bid to finish second. Port Macquarie on the other hand will be hoping for a Northern Beaches win to make their task of trying to finish fourth a little easier.

Evans would love to assure the Magpies that his team will win but he knows Sawtell/Toormina will be more than a handful after the Saints beat the Blues by 27-points earlier this month.

“Sawtell will be a tough game from what we saw a couple of weeks ago and what they’ve been playing,” he said.

Playing at home will be an advantage for Northern Beaches but Evans added there’s good and bad to come from playing on their smaller sized oval at this time of year.

“In a way I’d prefer to play on the bigger grounds this time of year because it kind of gets you ready for the stadium,” the Blues coach said.

“But never the less when you’re chasing some points to shore up your position on the ladder, playing on a smaller ground probably helps as it’s more compressed and it helps some bigger markers that we’ve got.”

Sawtell/Toormina has hit some good form of late and now sit in fourth position. But playing coach Brandt Lee said now is no time to be resting on any laurels.

“Obviously everyone’s pretty up and about, three wins in a row and beat Woopi (Northern Beaches) last time but I’ve said to the players ‘we haven’t done anything just yet, we haven’t won anything yet’,” Lee said.

“We’ve still got to keep pushing for that finals spot and next week’s another big obstacle we’ve got to overcome.

“We know Woopi are going to be a lot stronger at home but we’ve just got to be ready for it.”

There will be three matches at Centennial Oval on Saturday with the two clubs meeting in the women’s and reserves competitions.

The Saints women are also hunting a finals berth and have matches against Northern Beaches, Lismore Swans and Grafton to come.

Their coach Bec Minichilli admits this match against the Blues will be a difficult task but her ever improving team gives her cause for hope ahead of the first bounce.

“It’s going to be hard, they (Northern Beaches) will have Alana Hanson back and she didn’t play last time we met but I still think that last time we played against them we were short a few players and we gave them a run for their money,” Minichilli said.

“We’re just going to give it everything we’ve got and leave nothing on the park and see how we come up.”

Port Macquarie’s senior team doesn’t just need a good result at Centennial Oval to go their way. The Magpies need to take care of some business themselves as the team is also playing a catch-up game. Port will be playing at home against Casino.

Coming off a last start loss, Port Macquarie coach Matthew Clarke said the upcoming meeting against a winless opponent creates an opportunity for his team.

“I think that will be a good game to get back to basics and set our routine again and sling shot off that into the finals,” Clarke said.

Sawtell/Toormina’s Kareena Johnson lays a strong tackle on Shania King from Northern Beaches. Photo: Green Shoots Marketing

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)

The Casino Lions will be travelling to Port Macquarie to play in the next round of AFL North Coast matches. Photo: Jordan Smith Photography