Round 2 Preview
Coffs Swans v Sawtell
It promises to be a titanic contest when the up-and-coming Swans aim to upset an established Saints outfit at Fitzroy Oval.
Sawtell were at their ruthless best last week destroying Grafton. There were no passengers in what was a typical team performance from the side that has been at the top of its game throughout the last few seasons.
The side seems to have a great blend of youth and experience with Todd Matthews and Tristan McCormack among the best for the Saints last week with their attack and clean handling highlights of their performance. New recruit, Ben Hooke was untouchable playing as an attacking midfielder-forward, showing great skills to kick 10 goals. Along with Scott Matthews, Mark Couzens and Daniel Johnson who were solid, as always, will be vital to Sawtell’s success tomorrow.
The Swans will be heartened by their competitive display against defending premiers, Port Magpies, away from home. New recruits, Shane Adams and Rob Eddy were among the Swans best around the ground, but apart from Peter Chadwick, who reportedly played another blinder, they didn’t get enough assistance from their second-tier players to win the contest.
It is a matter now of the Swans taking that next step to silence the critics who believe the Swans will underperform this season. The Swans need to make a good fist out of the ruck duels if they are to get first supply of the ball in this match. Neither side can afford to be rusty in terms of disposing the football especially in their delivery into the forward line given that both sides are yet to settle their structure in that part of the ground.
There should be a big crowd tomorrow that will witness what should be a close match. Sawtell are too silky smooth at the moment and should run away with the match late in the piece.
Port Macquarie v North Coffs
These sides are traditional rivals and one can expect a strongly fought-out contest at Stuart Park. Both have the right to be confident after comfortable wins in the opening round after leading throughout.
The Kangaroos’ unveiled their boom recruit, Sam Dawes, last week in their sizeable win over the Lions away from home. Dawes, who hails from Victoria, booted seven goals, complementing established forward, Darren Funston well in what seems a reinvigorated attack under new coach, Danny McFadden. These two need to have massive games and kick a bag of goals if the ‘Roos are any chance in this match.
Port eventually drew away from the Swans in their match, with youngsters, Jacob Hart and Jesse Schmidt among their best. The Magpies are blessed with the versatility that these solid-bodied youngsters offer. Throw in the ability of Matthew Newton and Dean Nankervill to play at either end of the ground and it offers the Port hierarchy with a range of rotation options on the rare occasions where they are under pressure.
North Coffs have been blown away by the Magpies in recent clashes and this will be a great test of their character. Port will win but the ‘Roos will put up a decent fight.
Grafton v Nambucca Valley
It is hard to know who to pick in this game considering the Jeckyl and Hyde personas of these two sides. One week they can be competitive and the next week they can be awful.
Grafton definitely had one of those weeks last week and one must question the commitment of four or five of their best players in not making the short journey to Sawtell for the clash. Without these players, Grafton will not win a game this season.
The Tigers definitely feel more at home at their Ellem Oval ‘enclosure’ but the Lions enjoy a successful record at the ground in recent clashes.
The Lions will be buoyed by the individual performance of Ray McGrath in kicking seven out of the nine goals last week, as well as youngsters, Justin Saker and Blake Toohey. They are a developing side and will be competitive throughout this season under Jim Angel.
Nambucca Valley have much better structure, skills and depth than Grafton who should provide stronger opposition given they field a full-strength side.