EFFORT: Grafton Tigers' Luke Stanford tackles a Magpies' attacker earlier in the seaon. Stanford has been a standout for the Tigers all season.
EFFORT: Grafton Tigers' Luke Stanford tackles a Magpies' attacker earlier in the seaon. Stanford has been a standout for the Tigers all season. Debrah Novak

AFL: Tigers' tough season comes to close

AFL: What has been a disappointing season for the Grafton Tigers senior sides has come to an end with Seniors and Under-18s ranks eliminated from the competition by Sawtell Toormina Saints at the weekend.

Sawtell coach Jim Angel identified it as a danger match, knowing that if his troops got ahead of themselves and focussed on the Preliminary Final it could open the door for Grafton Tigers to spring the upset of the season.

Angel's pre-game talk to his players was designed to address this, telling them to focus on the process and setting key indicators around tackles and forward 50 entries.

The Sawtell players certainly heeded the call and were ruthless in the first quarter in keeping Grafton scoreless, but their goal kicking left a little to be desired in posting five goals, seven behinds.

Whilst Grafton wasn't able to pose a credible threat to the result, they toiled manfully all day. Luke Stanford was a standout performer for the Tigers and showed his class yet again, following the birth of his second child on Friday night.

The Tigers posted goals in both the second and third quarters, but unfortunately for them, Sawtell rectified their kicking issues and were able to post 16 majors.

The Tigers ran out of steam in the last quarter and Sawtell continued on their ruthless way to send an ominous warning to both Coffs Breakers and Port Macquarie Magpies.

The experience of Luke Matthews and Mark Couzens led the way through the middle of the ground and created regular scoring opportunities for Aaron Clarke (6), Hamish Bird (4), Ryan Woolley, Brandt Lee, and Malcolm Trotter (3 apiece).

Sawtell was also dominant in the Under-18s clash against a valiant Tigers outfit which was not willing to go down without a fight.

With their season done, the Tigers will need to begin focusing on next season, which has been buoyed by the success of their Under-15s junior side.



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