STAR QUALITY: Grafton Tigers star Lilly Doyle was instrumental in getting the club's youth girls side to the AFL North Coast grand final last season and is expected to make the step up to the senior women's side this year.
STAR QUALITY: Grafton Tigers star Lilly Doyle was instrumental in getting the club's youth girls side to the AFL North Coast grand final last season and is expected to make the step up to the senior women's side this year. Matthew Elkerton

Claws out for women's aussie rules

AFL: The Grafton Tigers will join forces with the newly reformed Northern Beaches Blues to complete a four team competition in the AFL North Coast Senior competition.

The draw for the senior competition was released this week for what will be a bumper year of footy in the region when the season gets underway on Saturday, April 13.

The Northern Beaches Blues, formerly the Woolgoolga Blues, will join up with the Tigers providing a reserves outfit and a joint women's side to complement the Tigers senior men and under-17s.

The joint venture will share their home games throughout the season between Ellem Oval and Centennial Park in Woolgoolga.

North Coast AFL community football manager Paul Taylor said the second consecutive year of growth in senior footy had been extremely well received.

"At a time when most sports are struggling to maintain their numbers in regional areas, the advent of a new club and new teams has generated real excitement within the competition,” he said.

"Our junior competition has experienced unparalleled growth in the past three years and this is now starting to extend to the senior competition.”

NSW/ACT representative star Lilly Doyle is expected to make the step up from the Tigers juniors ranks to lead the joint senior women's side.

Northern Beaches and Grafton will play all of their matches at the same venue each week, meaning the two clubs will share home grounds and will travel together.

Rivals Sawtell Toormina Saints and Coffs Harbour Breakers have each foregone one home match against Grafton/Northern Beaches to ensure there's plenty of AFL content in each location, which will help greatly with future growth in both areas.

"The season hasn't even started yet and already the hallmark of 2019 is clubs working together to grow the code,” Taylor said.

"Experience tells us that this is the single biggest factor to achieving sustainable growth and the clubs are to be commended for the mature approach that each has adopted.”

The 2019 season will be the first time in several years that each of the two weekly grounds used will feature four games of senior football.

The season will also conclude with a three week finals series starting on August 24, while the grand finals of each grade will be held at the revamped C.ex Coffs International Stadium on Saturday, September 7.



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