AROUND THE TRAPS WITH ROD ROCKET MACPHERSON
Saints Boosted by Matthews Return
A battered and bruised Port Macquarie return to BCU Stadium this afternoon determined to earn another crack at Grafton in the grand final. But first they must first get past a rejuvenated Sawtell Saints outfit that welcomes back champion Todd Matthews. Matthews looked gone for the year and his return is a huge boost. "Todd is obviously a very important player to us and we are rapt to have him back." said a smiling Saints coach Ben Hooke yesterday. Trent Baade also returns and the duo will pose plenty of questions to the Magpie midfield that took a physical hammering last week. The Saints have Courtney Tune in career best form in the ruck and a dangerous forward line that includes Jim Angel, Ray McGrath, Ben Hooke and Craig Parsons.
Port will rush back Ryan Moore from suspension and will wait until the last minute before making a call on star forward Matt Newton. Newton has only been able to play a handful of games this season due to a calf injury but is a key target and sorely missed. Matt Lill is doubtful after turning his ankle last week and Jessie Schmidt looked to cop a knock late in the game. Michael Kemp has stepped up as a big marking target and Greg Dean is a star but the Pies stocks look depleted and this will be a tough assignment. Shannon Skreja may also be a late inclusion. It is all about timing and preparation and the weeks rest may just be enough to see the Saints sneak home in a tight one.
Swans Look to Salvage 2012 Season
It is not often that Port Macquarie are not straight through to the reserves grand final but Craig Carroll’s boys find themselves squaring off against the Coffs Swans in a bid to make their 10th straight decider.
The Swans looked good in the first semi with Jason Sincock in particularly good touch. The Swans have the luxury of playing a few younger lads along side the aging Al Clayton and Leigh Maher and are a big chance of knocking the Pies out in straight sets.
North Coffs on Late Charge
What a game the U18 preliminary final is shaping up to be. There has been nothing between the top four sides all year and North Coffs are a real chance to make a late charge from fourth spot and make the grand final. Camden Haven was a bit sloppy last week and relied heavily on Tyson Wiegold to give them drive. They should be better for the experience but don’t bet your house on it! Nathan Harris is a superstar at this level and I can’t see anyone stopping him from running riot. Finals experience might be enough to see the Roos get up in a tight one.
AROUND THE TRAPS
Grafton coach Adrian Campbell surprised both Port Macquarie and the spectators last week by playing his two trump forwards Lee Anderson and Daniel Zacek in defence during the early part of the second semi final. Both did some great defensive work and went forward later in the game to boot six goals and win the game. What will he have up his sleeve for the grand final?
What a fiery clash in the U18 last week between the two southern combatants. Port Macquarie got away in the end but don’t be surprised to see that result reversed if Camden Haven can get past North Coffs this week.
Congratulations to league President Jim Woodlock who has been recognised with a prestigious volunteering award by the AFL for his services to local footy. Jim has announced his retirement at the conclusion of the season but then again I have heard that once before as well. Jim is a life member of the league, which recognised his contribution by having the best player in the grand final, awarded the Woodlock Medal in honour of his and wife Jill’s services to the game.
Local umpiring ramks could be depleted next year if Mitchell Turner joins brother Luke in Sydney. Mitch had adjudicated a number of AFLNC grand finals and was offered a game in the Sydnet league while in the Harbour City for job interviews last week.