Grand finals celebrate all that’s good about junior AFL
THE premiers have been crowned in each of the four age groups in the AFL North Coast junior competition.
With each of the premierships being won by a different clubs, the four separate winners show not only how significantly the code has grown in recent years, but also how even the competition has become.
Port Macquarie Magpies claimed the first premiership of both the day and the season when they took out the under 11 grand final against Coffs Harbour Breakers.
The Port outfit showed their class through the middle stages of the contest when they kicked seven of their ten goal match tally to claim the title for the second year in a row. The Magpies are a highly skilled and well drilled outfit and were able to put together slick passages of play and positive ball movement.
To the credit of the young Breakers, they never gave up and had their most productive quarter of the match when the result was a foregone conclusion. A three goal last quarter was a good way for the Breakers to show their resilience after poor kicking in the first half left them goalless.
Team captain of the Magpies, Tobie Quinn, was best on ground for his team, while Annalise Crawley was Breakers strongest performer.
The AFL North Coast end of season awards were presented to Tobie Quinn (Port Macquarie) and Brenton Mance (Camden Haven Bombers) who couldn't be split for the Best and Fairest, while Zane Guthrie was named as Rising Star, being the under 10 player who polled the most votes across the season.
Port Macquarie Magpies 10.10 (70) defeated Coffs Harbour Breakers 4.9 (33)
Nambucca Valley Lions' early existence in the AFL North Coast junior competition goes from strength to strength with their third premiership win within just four years of forming.
The Lions overcame the Port Macquarie Swoopers in their best performance of the season to claim back to back premierships in the under 13 age group. After a tight first quarter, the Lions accelerated in the second and third terms to score three and four goals respectively against one goal for Port and put the result beyond doubt.
Credit to the Port Macquarie club which fielded two teams in the age group and managed to finish in second and fourth places on the ladder. This is a great sign that the Port club had the spread of talent spot on to create two very competitive teams.
Will Devereaux was deemed Best on Ground for the Lions, while Isaac Luke claimed the same honour for Port.
The 2020 Best and Fairest award was shared by three players, being Wilson Baade (Nambucca Valley Lions), Tane Skinner (Sawtell Toormina Saints), and Lincoln Proctor (Port Macquarie Flyers). The Rising Star award for best under 12 player was won by Isaac Luke (Port Macquarie Swoopers).
Nambucca Valley Lions 9.13 (67) defeated Port Macquarie Swoopers 2.6 (18)
Bellingen Bulldogs Youth Girls team became the club's first premiers in many years when they overcame a highly resilient Sawtell Toormina Saints team.
Playing in their second grand final in as many years, the Bulldogs girls showed their mettle in the aptly named premiership quarter, coming out after the half time break to kick three goals to one and open a 26 point lead at the last break. The job was completed in the last stanza when the Doggies posted a further three goals against one from the Saints to seal a 38 point win.
The Saints had an incredible year, winning every match in the home and away season. They faced significant challenges in the past two weeks with one player hospitalised in a serious car accident and their leading player ruled out on the morning of the match with injury. Despite this the Sawtell girls gave an outstanding account of themselves and will be a force to be reckoned with again next season.
Best on Ground for the premiers was Teneika Coltman, while Lilli-Yana Moody capped a fantastic debut season with the same award for the Swans.
Poppy Johnston (Sawtell Toormina Saints) was awarded the League's Best and Fairest, known as the Nikki Wallace Medal. Mackenzie Bagnall (Grafton Tigers) was the runner-up in the Best and Fairest, and Deja Barlow (Bellingen Bulldogs) was the Rising Star as the best young player in the competition.
Bellingen Bulldogs 8.7 (55) defeated Sawtell Toormina Saints 2.5 (17)
Coffs Harbour Breakers and Port Macquarie Magpies turned on a classic encounter in the under 15 match that went down to the absolute wire, with three lead changes in the last few minutes. Not only was this match a nail biter, it was also a highly skilled and free flowing affair that showed all of the best qualities of junior footy on the North Coast.
A skilful but low scoring first half where the two sides were always within a goal of each other gave way to a more open and free scoring contest after the main break. Port kicked the last goal of the third term to open a 16 point lead at the break, and when they goaled again early in the final term it looked as if the trophy was heading south.
Breakers then kicked the next four goals to breathe new life into the contest, putting their noses in front for the first time since early in the first quarter. With less than five minutes to play it seemed as if the momentum had shifted completely to the Breakers but Port kicked a goal to regain the lead by just two points with under three minutes to go.
When it appeared that time would run out for the Coffs team they managed one more twist to kick the final goal and regain the lead with one minute forty left in the match. Port launched another raid but the Breakers defence stood resolute to claim the title.
Oscar McKenzie was a stand out all day, really made the difference in the last quarter, and was rightly awarded the Best on Ground for the Breakers. Cedar Barry was outstanding for Port to receive the same accolade for Port.
The end of season awards showed how close the season was, with the League Best and Fairest split three ways between Oscar McKenzie (Coffs Harbour Breakers), Ned O'Neill (Grafton Tigers), and Beau Guthrie (Coffs Harbour Breakers). As a bottom age player in the Under 15 competition, Beau Guthrie also claimed the Rising Star award.
Coffs Harbour Breakers 7.8 (50) defeated Port Macquarie Magpies 6.10 (46)