Good signs despite loss

THE Grafton Tigers showed they will be a force to be reckoned with in the 2009 North Coast AFL competition despite losing their opening match of the season by 20 points against the Coffs Swans at Ellem Oval on Saturday.

With a close-to-full-strength side and a really good pre-season under their belts, the Tigers started sensationally on Saturday, kicking the first four goals of the match.

The Swans, one of last season's best sides, looked a little worried as the Tigers used their home ground advantage and went into halftime with a four-goal lead.

But as so often is the case with Grafton, they couldn't deliver the knockout blow in the all-important third term.

The Swans got their game going and got back into the contest to be trailing by just one point at the final break. The last quarter started well for the Tigers when they kicked the first goal, but then Coffs kicked the final four majors of the match to win 14.13.97 to Grafton 11.11.77.

The Tigers were best served by Kelly Thompson, Sam Morrison, Justin Darby and Luke Chard.

Grafton coach Grahame Blackwell was pleased with his side's first-up effort.

“We can take a lot from the game, but the unfortunate thing we are yet to learn is the ability to put a team away,” he said.

“This comes with confidence and winning close games.

“Hopefully we can develop this skill in the next few weeks.”

The Tigers will not play next week due to Anzac day, but they have another three home games in a row after that.

“The ground is the smallest in the league so we have a definite advantage when we play there,” Blackwell said.

Grafton's next game is against last year's grand final runner-up, North Coffs Kangaroos.

“They have apparently picked up a few players over the summer and from all accounts will be up there again this year,” Blackwell said.

“This will be an acid test for us because it will give an insight as to where we are against the competition's best.”

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