Resilient 'Pies make Grand Final





North Coffs





Port Macquarie





North Coffs

Goal Kickers: Dean Funston 3, R. Turner 3, B. Sykes 3, B. Beer
Best Players: L. Sands, T. Campbell, J. Drum, Darren Funston, Dean Funston, B. Giri

Port Macquarie

Goal Kickers: M. Lill 3, J. Schmidt 2, G. Conway 2, S. Skreja, D. Nankivell, B. Hawtin, C. Miechel
Best Players: S. Skreja, M. Lill, D. Nankivell, J. Mohr, G. Conway, C. Dicker


The Port Macquarie Magpies have sealed their berth in the Grand Final against Sawtell, after coming from behind for the second consecutive match to win by the barest of margins against North Coffs.

The crowd at BCU International Stadium saw all the excitement one could hope for in a Preliminary Final as the momentum swung both ways throughout the even affair.

North Coffs seemed to have the edge in a placid opening half, as Port struggled to find their groove moving forward.

For all their efforts, the Kangaroos fell away in the final part of the second quarter to hold a five-point lead at the main break. Tom Campbell and Josh Drum were strong in the midfield and were able to find open space.

The vaunted Port defence struggled to contain the tall targets of Ryan Turner and Ben Sykes. Their contested marking ability gave the Kangaroos stability in the forward half.

Port’s comeback came against the flow of play as North Coffs stretched their lead into the final change. Levi Sands was impressive in restricting the influence of the Magpies’ main target, Jesse Schmidt.

The final quarter saw the Magpies’ forward line click as they went for broke.

Matthew Lill was fantastic again with the match on the line, scoring three goals and having a hand in several more.

To add to the theatre, Michael Kemp was sin-binned for abuse, only for the ledger to be squared minutes later, with North Coffs midfielder, Tom Merrick suffering the same fate.

Port came home with a wet sail despite losing their key ruckman. The loss seemed to act as a spark and they played inspired football as North Coffs, again, were exposed in the final quarter.

Shannon Skreja was inspirational and his contested work in the midfield was one of the main catalysts behind Port’s comeback.

Eventually, they snatched the lead in the final five minutes and were able to control the ball enough to snare a nail-biting win.

Their task will not get any easier as they look to snap a three-year Senior premiership drought against the might of the Sawtell Saints next weekend.






Port Macquarie





North Coffs





Port Macquarie

Goal Kickers: C. Carroll 3, J. Bartlett 3, T. Hunt, T. Kelly

North Coffs

Goal Kickers: L. Miller 2, D. Markey, B. Foster

Port Macquarie kept their hopes of an eighth successive Reserves premiership alive with a comfortable win over North Coffs.

The Magpies were strong over the park, and managed to keep the Kangaroos goalless in the first half.

Gordon Wiegold was dominant in the middle for the victors, while Craig Carroll and Justin Bartlett were dangerous up forward kicking three goals each.

North Coffs impressed in the finals despite their struggles during the regular season. Lachlan and Rory Miller showed they are finds for the club, again putting in solid performances.

Port’s win sees them book a date with old rivals, Sawtell to decide the best side this year.







Port Macquarie





North Coffs





Port Macquarie

Goal Kickers: J. Williams 3, D. Rumble 2, R. Lightfoot, R. Mc Mahon, B. Smith, J. Tate
Best Players: A. Gillman, R. Mc Mahon, J. Williams, B. Kennedy, L. Carroll, D. Rumble

North Coffs

Goal Kickers: B. Norton 4, N. Harris 3, J. Lansdowne 3, D. Homan 2, S. MacDonald, L. Miller
Best Players: J. Campbell, S. MacDonald, L. Miller, M. Peel, N. Harris, J. Wilson

There was some consolation for the Kangaroos with their Under 18s turning in their best performance of the season in their 27-point defeat of Port Macquarie.

Port Macquarie were highly fancied leading into the clash but someone forgot to tell the Kangaroos despite the Magpies’ early dominance.

Jamie Williams was enigmatic up forward, while Alex Gillman excelled in his shutdown role on premier Kangaroos’ midfielder, Nathan Harris.

North Coffs coach, Trent Cook deserves praise for his side’s second-half approach. Their tackle pressure went through the roof with Jack Campbell leading the way. He tip-toed the line but his aggressive approach paved the way for the Kangaroos to kick ten goals to two in the second-half.

Shannon Macdonald and Lachlan Miller added speed on the flanks.

Two of Cook’s best moves with the match in dispute was to move Brendan Norton up the ground to half-forward and push Harris forward. Harris shook the tag and kicked three goals in the final term, with Norton also prominent for the improving Kangaroos.

They now have a real chance of upsetting the Saints to claim the Under 18s premiership.


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