Round 14 Preview
Sawtell/Toormina v Port Macquarie
The top two sides in Sawtell and Port Macquarie will face off at Richardson Park on Saturday looking to guarantee a second chance.
Their form over the last two weeks has been excellent and the winner of this clash could well earn premiership favouritism considering how closely matched the top four teams are at present.
Port Macquarie, in particular, have bounced back well after a narrow loss at home to the Swans. Jacob Hart has been prominent in front of goal, coming off a massive haul last weekend, and will be crucial across half-forward. Jesse Schmidt is starting to hit his straps to as one would expect from the talented youngster. Schmidt gives captain-coach Matthew Newton plenty of options, as he can be rotated in any position with his contested marking and penetrating kick a feature.
Newton, himself, will be vital around the ground, and along with Dean Nankervill, who has made his return in recent weeks, will need to get plenty of the football for Port to be a chance.
Sawtell are on a four game winning streak and last suffered defeat when they took an under-strength side to Port. Courtney Tune, again, should use his experience and height to full advantage in the ruck. The Matthews brothers typify the physical edge the Saints are developing, but along with Harley Schmidt and Mark Couzens, they are winning plenty of the ball themselves and dominating the middle corridor.
Ben Hooke needs to stand up and prove himself against quality opposition, whilst Troy Britnell and Josh Edwards will have their hands full down back against mobile and fast-leading forwards.
The supply to the forwards will be most crucial for each side. There will be a lot of contested ball and the side best able to find space across half-forward and make the most of their chances will win the match.
Grafton v North Coffs
North Coffs will be looking to build on their strong win last weekend when they travel north to meet the enigmatic Tigers.
The Kangaroos were brilliant last week and were ably led by Sam Dawes who had one of the best individual games of the season. The impact Brad Giri had on his return was noticeable and he will love pumping the ball in with regularity on the post-stamp sized Ellem Oval. Darren Funston will be in some doubt after resting a shoulder complaint in the final quarter.
Throw into the mix, Josh Drum who played well across half-back and Jordan O’Connor at full-forward; it is a potent mix for the Kangaroos.
Grafton got close and gave the ‘Roos a scare in their corresponding clash at home. Daniel Zacek will prove a target, along with Sean Purton, if he plays. Scott Onus will be pivotal in applying pressure and clearing the ball out of the midfield, along with Kelly Thompson who is a player with potential.
It will be an entertaining clash with plenty of goals set to endanger tennis players in the neighbouring courts. North Coffs should eventually prevail.
Nambucca Valley v Coffs Swans
The Swans will be scratching their heads to find out where all their form has gone of late. Set-backs are natural, with the side suffering a mixture of injuries, absences and a failure to follow a successful game plan. They basically haven’t scored enough points in the last two weeks against sides playing a finals brand of football.
They should be able to score more freely this weekend, but the Swans will need to identify more targets up forward and improve the efficiency of their ball movement. They suffered last week from the early loss of Blake Ford and the lack of impact Evan Duryea had on the contest.
The side will hope to welcome back Tony Waterfall, Dave Colman and Hamish Pearce to cover the likely loss of Tristan Snow who is struggling with a calf injury.
Nambucca will endeavour to apply a high level of pressure but have lacked the potency themselves to put a score on the board despite their strong improvement of late. Gavin Upton, who has recently joined the club, and Ray McGrath were good last week, and with Monty Schmidt improving in the midfield, it may be closer than a lot of people would expect.
Nambucca Valley are also holding a Trivia Night after Saturday's match as their major fundraiser for this season. It promises to be an entertaining night with all encouraged to attend. More details are in the Events section of the website.