Fairytale turns nasty for Tigers
By Steve Kreemers
THE Grafton Tigers AFL Club, thanks to the support from Text Express, Ray White Real Estate and Hanks Kitchen, hosted the NCAFL reigning premiers Sawtell Saints in the second round of the 2006 competition at Ellem Oval on Saturday and were eager to post a home ground win against quality opposition.
The game started at a lively pace with both teams committed to the ball.
Scoring was difficult for both sides until Aaron Vassallo came from the ground injured upsetting the balance of the Tigers' backline which allowed Sawtell to post three quick majors.
Grafton fought back late in the quarter to post two of their own and trail by 11 points at quarter time.
Despite the courageous efforts of the Seewald and Darby brothers in the backline, the Saints began to find an avenue to goal scoring four for the term.
The Tigers forwards, led by Carl Boehme, continued to fight hard to score from limited opportunities and were able to add three goals and go into the long break still with a chance of victory, thanks to Sawtells inaccurate kicking, trailing 5.4.34 to 7.14.56.
The Tigers started the second half full of running with Scott Onus and Wes Seewald beginning to link up with the forwards allowing the Tigers to have four separate goal scorers while at the other end one Sawtell Forward kicked three, including one in the last 15 seconds of the term, reducing the Tigers fight back to eight points and a third term deficit of 14 points.
There was an air of expectation among the Tigers supporters after last week's come-from-behind win and another was on the cards as Mark Blundell slotted his third early in the term.
However, this is where the fairytale ended as the Sawtell midfielders found another gear and began rampaging into the forward line allowing Sawtell to outscore the Tigers by five goals for the quarter and run out winners by 48 points 16.23.119 to 10.11.71.
Goal scorers for the Tigers were Mark Blundell 3, Shawn Purto n 2 and one apiece to Scott Onus, Aaron Vassallo, Carl Boehme, Troy Carter and Rick Leeson.
Wes Seewald will be dining in style at the Riverside Brassiere after receiving the Crown Hotel Dinner, Scott Onus picked up the Tigers Club award, Ryan Sheather the Corkers Liquor award and Mark Blundell will have to let his closely cropped locks grow prior to cashing in his Splinters Hair award.
The Scrappy Joes Metal Recyclers seconds were full of confidence as the took to the field with a near full strength outfit for their first home game but were overwhelmed by a younger and fitter Sawtell side who dominated the contest running out 69 point winners 11.13.79 to 1.4.10.
Wayne Phillips put in a terrific game in the ruck beating his 7 foot 2 African-born opponent on the day.
Luke Chard and Chris Schaffer also fought hard for the Tigers with the only major for the home side scored by playing coach Rod Sheather.
The Troy Carter Plumbing award went to Blair Littlechild, Phillips picked up the Trevor Ross award and Dave Yowie Youman will be looking sharp after winning the Splinters Hair haircut.
The Eyecare Plus Under-18s game reflected the senior encounter with the home side behind but within reach of victory for three quarters until being overrun by Sawtell in the last term going down 9.10.64 to 16.11.107.
The young lads will continue to improve as a team this year and now have an understanding of the skill level required to succeed.
Eli Edwards picked up the Aboriginal Medical Services award in his first outing as a Tiger and is a player new to the code that has great potential.
Consistent performers Andrew Mahoney, Naeco Blue award, Cameron Ross, Guardian Chemist award and Luke Hayman, Video Ezy award, again played well.