Round 12 Preview
Sawtell/Toormina v Port Macquarie
The Sawtell Saints are in irrepressible form and this weekend come up against a Port Magpies side desperately trying to hold onto a place in the finals at the Coffs Coast Leisure Park.
Sawtell are in a menacing mood, as shown in their massive win over North Coffs. They were never headed against the previously undefeated Kangaroos, with Mark Couzens instrumental in the centre and up forward with eight goals.
The defending premiers have again moulded into a side that is able to attack anywhere on the park. Their attack on the ball is most impressive. Luke Matthews and Daniel Pritchard add experience to the midfield, whilst the return of Courtney Tune allows coach, Russ Matthews to play tall with David Carey and Ethan Kelly also capable ruckmen.
In bad news for the rest of the competition, Dave Meyers makes his long awaited return from suspension this weekend, whilst Les Cohen is also due to return.
The Magpies missed a golden opportunity to further cement fourth place when their match against last-placed Nambucca was washed out. They are still a long way behind the top three, but have the class to challenge into the finals with their full list.
They have capable ball-winners in Dean Nankervill and Matthew Lill with Jesse Schmidt able to kick goals given good supply.
There is still a worry over the commitment and fitness of a few of their players.
The equation isn’t in their favour this weekend with the Saints starting to fire on
all cylinders with the finals only a month away.
Grafton v North Coffs
The match of the round could well be up at Ellem Oval as North Coffs look to
rebound against the hot-and-cold Grafton Tigers.
North Coffs were outclassed last weekend with Darren Funston (bad cork) and Brad Giri (hamstring) departing from the field early with injury. There are doubts over their fitness. In a boost, Sam Dawes will return after missing the Saints clash with the flu.
Their defence was exposed and unable to counter the forward press employed by the Saints. A lot is reliant on the Kangaroos controlling the ball in being able to attack the opposition through their midfield division.
Tom Merrick and Michael Kerr need to provide the run that is needed for last-years Grand Finalists to make a charge for the title this year.
Trent Cook was a standout and needs more support from the core this weekend.
Grafton dropped outside the top four with a disappointing loss to the Swans at Fitzroy Oval last Saturday. The Tigers missed the direction Daniel Zacek provides in the middle. Justin Darby is also likely to return to the pivotal half-back post. Luke Hayman and Bryce Kurtzmann are capable of more, especially in providing more support to fellow youngster, Dale Beaver who is showing some impressive form.
Beaver kicked four goals last week and the dilemma is now whether to use him deep up forward or in the midfield where his creative ball-use adds another bow to the Tigers’ artillery.
Their last clash produced the closest margin of the year, so all bides well for an
intriguing clash where the rebounding ‘Roos will still start favourites.
Nambucca Valley v Coffs Swans
The Swans bounced back to form last weekend and will look to build on the momentum when they travel to Macksville Park to face the Lions.
There is no doubting the red and whites look better when Evan Duryea is on song. The midfielder kicked six goals and provided a lot of drive through the middle. Along with Sam Turner, the duo deliver very well to moving targets, which will be the key on the expansive BCU Stadium, come finals time. Whilst the Swans are equal on points with the top two, they are still short in the talent department.
Nambucca got close a fortnight ago against Grafton but are likely to face a sterner test at home. Their depth will again be tested, as Monty Schmidt and Luke Benson will have important run-with roles.
The Swans will win well ahead of tougher challenges to come.