BOUNCING BACK: The Coffs Breakers defeated the Grafton Tigers in the 2018 youth girls AFL grand final.
BOUNCING BACK: The Coffs Breakers defeated the Grafton Tigers in the 2018 youth girls AFL grand final. Greg White

Junior Tigers set to roar in big semi-finals double header

AUSSIE RULES: The Grafton Tigers Junior AFL club is set to host this year's major semi-finals at Ellem Oval on Sunday , with the Grafton Youth Girls and under-15s sides both one win away from a grand final berth.

The youth girls and under-15s have been two of the form sides in their competitions, and both will be looking to avenge recent finals heartbreak.

The Tigers youth girls side have been beaten in the past two years by a goal or less to end their finals run, while the under-15s last year lost the grand final clash against Sawtell.

Under-15 coach Nigel O'Neil said this year's team had some of last year's under-13s that got knocked out of the finals last year in straight sets.

O'Neil said this year's under-15 side were out to avenge their disappointing end to last season.

"The under-13s were pretty dominant last year and were devastated with how they got knocked out of the finals, and last year's under-15s lost a grand final, so you can imagine how devastated they were,” he said.

"They're a pretty tight-knit group and a good bunch of kids, they've got good heads on their shoulders and, to use an old cliche, they've kept a lid on things this year, taken it one game at a time, so fingers crossed they can go one better this year and win the grand final.

"We've got kids from Grafton, Maclean, Yamba, Palmers Island, and they're not all together very often, apart from training and the games, but they've all bonded well and been a great team.”

The under-15s will have to get past the Sawtell Toormina Saints this weekend if they want to secure a guaranteed grand final berth, but overcoming last year's premiers will be no easy feat, O'Neil said.

"The Saints will be a good challenge for the team and with the conditions predicted to be windy it'll be a challenge for both teams,” he said.

"Our side are a pretty strong team but finals footy is a whole different ball game, the intensity steps up, especially when you're taking on the reigning premiers.”

With a great day of junior AFL action set to take place at Ellem Oval, O'Neil said he hoped to see a great turn-out of supporters get behind the two Tigers teams.

"If past or present players or anyone really wants to come down and cheer us on, that'd be fantastic,” he said.

GAME DAY: The AFL North Coast Junior competition major semi-finals will be at Ellem Oval on Sunday, with the youth girls match starting at 12.50pm and under-15s at 2.15pm.



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