Silver lining in weekend’s disappointments

Grafton's Michael Luxton won the AFL North Coast's Under-17s League Best & Fairest award. Photo: Green Shoots Marketing

The positive aspect to come out of the weekend that saw local footy postponed due to the state-wide lockdown was that three Semi Finals were able to be completed in the Senior Competition.

This means that both the Under 17 and Reserve Grade competitions now have the first team through to the Grand Final and combatants locked in for the Preliminary Final. Once the lockdown lifts, these two grades are only two matches away from being completed.

The Under 17 match between Grafton Tigers and Sawtell Toormina Saints started at a frenetic pace. The Saints kicked the first goal of the game from the opening bounce, and for the remainder of the opening term both teams kept the ball with rapid-fire, slick disposals and great efficiency rates. Sawtell had the best of the quarter to lead by two goals at the first break, with Kyan Upsall having three majors for the term.

The pace settled to one that was more sustainable for the rest of the match, and Grafton worked their way into the match further. By half time, Sawtell’s lead stood at just five points, and by the last change the two teams were level.

Grafton took control in the last, well led by Mikey Luxton who was a dominant force in the second half of the match. Ned O’Neill booted two majors in the third and a further three in the last to propel the Tigers into the Grand Final.

Grafton Tigers 10.9 (69) def Sawtell Toormina Saints 6.5 (41)

Photo: Green Shoots Marketing

The first of the Reserve Grade matches saw the Grafton Tigers achieve an incredible come from behind victory over Northern Beaches Blues.

The Blues jumped the Tigers in the opening quarter, booting five goals to none, in what looked like it was going to be a blow out. However the Tigers steadied in the second and started to work their way back into the contest by outscoring Northern Beaches by three goals to one in that term. This momentum continued through the third with the Blues further reduced to just ten points at the last break.

The final quarter saw Grafton boot three straight goals and hold Northern Beaches scoreless to claim a shock ten pint win. Mikey Luxton led the scoring for the Tigers, backing up his exploits in Under 17 with four goals, while Arron Vassallo added two.

The Tigers now progress to the Preliminary Final, whilst the Blues’ season comes to an end.

Grafton Tigers 9.6 (60) def Northern Beaches Blues 8.2 (50)

Photo: Green Shoots Marketing

The last match of the day was completed with the backdrop of the impending lockdown, but both teams maintained their focus to play out a quality Semi Final.

Breakers proved why they have been the form team of the Reserve Grade competition all season by winning each quarter, however the Saints were never far from the pace and kept the match competitive throughout.

By three quarter time the Breakers led by five goals in a relatively low scoring affair to have all but sealed victory. In the last quarter, Saints showed how competitive they can be, and were all but able to match the Breakers scoring in the final term.

Breakers eight goals were equally shared by Perry Gordon and Aaron Crolla, while Jaymus Troutman was the leading scorer for Sawtell with two majors.

Breakers are the first team into the Reserve Grade Grand Final, while Sawtell have an appointment with Grafton in the Preliminary Final.

Coffs Harbour Breakers 8.9 (57) def Sawtell Toormina Saints 4.3 (27)

Photo: Green Shoots Marketing

Once the lockdown lifts and local footy can resume, these results see the following confirmed:

Preliminary Finals (date t.b.d.)
Under 17               Sawtell Toormina Saints v Coffs Harbour Breakers
Reserve Grade     Sawtell Toormina Saints v Grafton Tigers

Grand Finals (date t.b.d.)
Under 17               Grafton Tigers v winner of Preliminary Final
Reserve Grade     Coffs Harbour Breakers v winner of Preliminary Final

Stay across the AFL North Coast social media channels for updates on the plans for resuming the season.