Chips all-in for Pies and Blues

Port Macquarie's Max Bylsma makes a spectacular marking attempt against Northern Beaches. Photo: Green Shoots Marketing

IF footy was a poker game, Saturday’s match between Port Macquarie and Northern Beaches would be the equivalent of both teams standing up with all of their chips on the table in waiting for the river card to decide the winner.

What the final cards will be when they’re all dealt at Wayne Richards Park is what nobody knows.

Port Macquarie coach Matt Clarke admits as much ahead of a contest that will see the winner qualify for the finals and the loser kiss their season goodbye.

“We’ve got a bit of a game plan that we think will work against them (the Blues) but you never really know until the start of the game whether or not that’s the case,” Clarke said.

Northern Beaches coach Rory Evans said facing a do-or-die contest is a pressure packed situation but it’s one the Blues can’t wait for. Although he’s wary of the opposition, particularly after Port Macquarie’s performance last round.

“It’s simple math for us, win and we finish third, lose and we’re out. It’s a challenge we’re looking forward to,” Evans said.

“It’s going to be tough for us, you only have to look at last week where they beat the league leaders by 10 goals.”

Port Macquarie’s season goes on the line in their final round meeting against Northern Beaches. Photo: Green Shoots Marketing

Saturday is actually do-or-die for both of Port Macquarie’s senior teams. The Magpies women are also facing a day of destiny.

The women are currently in fourth position but only on percentage. To make the finals, Port Macquarie can either be masters of their own fate and record an upset victory over the second-placed Blues or lose and rely on Sawtell/Toormina to beat Grafton.

Port’s co-coach Braden Saggers said the former would be his preferred method of making the top four.

“Hopefully we can win first and foremost because you don’t really want to be relying on other results to go your way,” Saggers said.

He added that he thinks his team is showing positive signs of being able to grab the valuable victory.

“I feel like last week was the best that we’ve played. I know the scoreboard doesn’t reflect that but the way we played really proved how far the team has come over the season,” he said.

Grafton’s fortunes have declined since they beat Sawtell/Toormina in the 2020 AFL North Coast Grand Final. Photo: Green Shoots Marketing

In the senior competition, Sawtell/Toormina is in the box seat to secure a double chance but ending the season in second position is no fait accompli.

The Saints will be travelling up to Grafton to face a reigning premier looking to end what’s been a disappointing season on a positive note.

Sawtell/Toormina playing-coach Brandt Lee said if the Saints are to finish second they face a must-win contest.

“We go up there trying to win under the impression that Lismore will beat Nambucca,” Lee said.

“We just want to win now and secure that spot, secure that double chance.”

Lismore Swans are hot favourites to win at home over Nambucca Valley while top of the ladder Coffs Breakers are also tipped to secure the four points over the Casino Lions despite being on the road.

ROUND 14 – Saturday, August 7

PORT MACQUARIE vs NORTHERN BEACHES at Wayne Richards Park, Port Macquarie
(11.50am – Women; 1.20pm – Reserves; 2.50pm – Seniors)
GRAFTON vs SAWTELL/TOORMINA at Ellem Oval, Grafton
(10.00am – Under-17s; 11.50am – Women; 1.20pm – Reserves; 2.50pm – Seniors)
(1.00pm – Seniors)
CASINO LIONS vs COFFS BREAKERS at Queen Elizabeth II Park, Casino
(2.50pm – Seniors)

NEXT – WEEK – 1st SEMI FINAL – Saturday, August 14

All matches – 3rd vs 4th at C.ex Coffs International Stadium.