Round 15 Preview
Sawtell v North Coffs
With the changing fortunes and fluctuating form of the other sides, one thing remains constant; the great form of the Sawtell/Toormina Saints. Of late, one week it is the Swans sitting on top and looking the goods, Port Macquarie has been there and now Sawtell has emerged as premiership favourite!
North Coffs have awoken from their dormant state and have made it a tipsters nightmare of late in the local competition.
There is no doubt the blue and whites come in with much better form and should give the Saints a greater test. Brad Giri and Sam Dawes are building a strong combination in the midfield, with Josh Drum and Tom Merrick happy to do all the dirty work.
Dawes, in particular has been in sterling form but even he has an opportunity for improvement with his set shooting average last week.
Sawtell are hoping to keep the fire burning as they will be looking to add to their five match winning streak against the North Coffs Kangaroos at Richardson Park. They hold a strong record over the ‘Roos, winning their previous two encounters by an average of 80 points.
Sawtell are like Geelong with their ability to rebound and spread the load in attack. Sure, Ben Hooke is a notable target, but the likes of Les Cohen and Lachlan Draper-Bell are good in the air and on the ground up forward. Elliott, Draper-Bell and Todd Matthews have pace to burn and complement the hardness of their other midfielders well.
It’s hard to see many weaknesses with the young and inexperienced players showing they are more than capable of playing finals-like football in previous weeks. Matthews and Mark Couzens were their best last week and are representative of the Saints dominance in the middle.
Norths will need to tighten up their defence with Sawtell averaging 20 goals in their past clashes. Mathew Gleeson and Kirt Connolly will be among those needed to stand up, whilst Andrew Pitzen and Michael Glaetzner are good fringe players and will need to play well again. Darren Funston should return from a shoulder injury and will be thrown in the deep end straight away as Saints coach, Russ Matthews is sure to have his troops fired up again.
Sawtell have endured a tough set of games in the last month and can't afford to be off the boil in this one, with Norths enjoying a good lead-up and look ready to go. Time will tell who is on the boil when the siren sounds at 2.30pm.
Grafton v Coffs Swans
The Swans, for the first time in a month, will be coming off a win against Grafton, who are in with a shot at home on Saturday.
The red and whites didn’t concede a goal against the Lions with the Dave’s; Colman and Box enjoying strong matches. This experience will be crucial in keeping the Swans momentum three weeks from the finals. With Colman, Tony Waterfall and Zac Bullivant returning from extended breaks, along with Hamish Pearce, surely rejuvenating the Swans in key areas of the field; this would’ve contributed to the twenty one goal haul last week.
The Swans have come back to the field lately but still ooze talent and with this first half tipped to be tight. Rob Eddy at half back has taken his game to a new level and is a consumate performer under pressure.
Grafton were better than the score suggested last week but inevitably couldn’t create enough opportunities and need more inside 50 entries, especially with the class of Sean Purton ready to pounce.
Daniel Zacek has been a godsend for the Tigers in the second half of the season and rather than going backwards, the side despite wins coming at a premium, seem keen to achieve. Zac Edwards is a good around-the-ground ruckman and Justin Darby is under-rated. Along with Scott Onus and Ryan Sheather and some impressive youngsters, they can be a team to challenge in the future.
Port Macquarie v Nambucca Valley
Port will be keen to atone for a poor outing against the Saints. They witnessed the benchmark and will show no mercy at their comfy home at Stuart Park. Matthew Newton will add to his six goal haul, whilst Dan Blysma and Daniel Humphries should add to their good recent form. The Magpies have reliable players but they need to iron out the weaknesses quickly to perform well away from home in the finals.
It is hard to find positives for the Lions as they didn’t score a goal last week from eight scoring shots. They do give a contest and have a strong focus on pressure and defence, but need more flair to get goals on the board. Luke Benson, Ray McGrath and Jimmy Angel will be relied upon to put the fires out around the ground, but there will probably be more than what they can contain themselves.
- Our Personality of the Week this time focuses on Port Magpie, Jesse Schmidt. Check his profile by clicking on the Personality/Team of the Week tab.