INCHING CLOSER: Tigers put one hand on minor premiership
GRAFTON Tigers are on the up in the 2020 AFL North Coast season, but the competition’s northernmost side made its biggest statement on Saturday against Sawtell Toormina Saints.
Grafton continued their run of form at Ellem Oval, defeating a spirited Saints 12.10 (82) to 8.4 (52).
With three rounds to go in the home and away season, the Tigers can almost taste the minor premiership as they move another game clear of the Saints at the top of the ladder.
Grafton had the better of the starts, opening up with a four goal to two first quarter, but Sawtell hit back in the second term, kicking three goals of their own to level the scores at the main break and take the momentum into half time.
In the third quarter, Grafton’s defence stood firm, conceding just two behinds and holding on to a 13 point lead going into the final change.
The Tigers then flexed their muscles again in the last quarter, kicking five goals from their 10 scoring shots, to run away with a 30 point win.
These two teams played out a draw in their last meeting in Round 5, and there is growing anticipation that a close finals encounter could be on the cards.
Grafton can take great confidence that they have been fiercely challenged in first halves over the past two weeks, but have run games out strongly to come out victors on both occasions.
Ned O’Neill and Aaron Ashby kicked three goals each for the Tigers, with Joel Ashby also booting two.
For the Saints, Mitch Napier kicked a game high four goals, and was well supported by Sam Schellenberger with two.
Grafton Tigers 12.10 (82) defeated Sawtell Toormina Saints 8.4 (52)
In the other men’s fixture, victory for the Coffs Harbour Breakers over the Port Macquarie Magpies represents a huge stride towards securing third place and a spot in the finals.
Needing a win to remain within striking distance of a top two finish, the Breakers were fast out of the blocks with a six goal to one opening quarter.
The Magpies showed plenty of fight in the second term as they kicked five goals of their own to close the half time margin to 20 points.
Coffs then put their foot down in the second half, kicking four and five goals in the third and fourth quarters respectively, to run away with a comfortable 57 point victory.
Breakers’ big man Jacob Sincock had a dominant game, kicking five goals for the visitors, with Harry Mapleson, Hayden Proctor and Kyle Ackroyd each contributing three.
The Magpies were incredibly accurate in front of goal, kicking a tally of 10 goals one, but the issue was that there just wasn’t enough chances created their sharp shooters to keep them in the contest.
Braden Saggers was the best in front of the big sticks with four goals, while Blake Nelson kicked three.
The stars on the day for the Breakers were Clancy Dickson, Jacob Sincock, Jay Guthrie, Liam Beacom, Michael McMahon, and Aidan Wallace. For Port, their best were lead by Nathan Cameron-Hancock, Braden Saggers, Kye Wilson, and Hayden McDonald.
Coffs Harbour Breakers 18.10 (118) defeated Port Macquarie Magpies 10.1 (61)
In the women’s clash, the Sawtell Toormina hosted the Northern Beaches Blues in a clash that saw the Blues clearly establish themselves in second place.
In a low scoring first term, the Blues kicked the opening goal and only conceded one behind to hit quarter time six points up.
The low scoring rate slowed down even further in the second quarter where the only score was a behind to the Blues.
Northern Beaches came out after half time keen to extend their lead, and a two goal stanza gave them a three quarter time buffer of 20 points, before another goal in the final term confirmed the result.
While the final margin wasn’t massive, 11 scoring shots to one demonstrates the control that the Northern Beaches had over the game, with the win placing them two games clear of Sawtell in second spot.
Goal scorers for the Blues were all singles, kicked by Jazlen Hooke, Kayla McIntosh, Jessica Midavaine, and Belinda Schofield.
Northern Beaches Blues 4.7 (31) defeated Sawtell Toormina Saints 0.1 (1)