The Tigers run onto the field at the North Coast AFL grand finals. Photo Patrick Allen / The Daily Examiner
The Tigers run onto the field at the North Coast AFL grand finals. Photo Patrick Allen / The Daily Examiner Patrick Allen

Now the fun begins

RON Barassi, one of the greatest coaches of all time, if not the greatest, would say to me and the rest of the team that the finals were the start of a new season.

The grounds are harder, the smell of spring is in the air and, as Barassi would say, what's happened before counts for little come finals time.

This month is one of the most anticipated finals series the AFL has had for many years.

I don't think in the history of the game there have been eight teams with genuine claims to being a premiership contender, but that's the case this year.

There's no clear favourite. Most will say Hawthorn, but the minor premier still has a couple of question marks that arise about it from time to time.

What I've found interesting is during the week the coaches of all eight teams playing this weekend have given themselves a chance of achieving the ultimate.

Normally there's a coach or two trying to claim a psychological advantage by saying they're the underdog, which is supposed to put pressure on the opposition.

That hasn't happened this week. There's a belief among the coaches their team has got what it takes to march through September.

While West Coast, Geelong, Fremantle and North Melbourne can win it from outside the top four, they face an incredibly difficult task.

To grab hold of the premiership trophy these teams will have to win four hard finals in a row and that's no easy task.

Hats off to the Tigers


IT'S hard enough to win one premiership, so to be able win back-to-back titles is a great effort.

Full marks to the Grafton coach and his playing group, which claimed the AFL North Coast title for a second straight year.

While the Tigers slammed home eight unanswered goals in the last term to race away with the contest, the premiership was won in the third quarter.

After half-time Sawtell-Toormina had the use of a three- or four-goal breeze, yet poor kicking for goal meant the Saints didn't win the quarter.

Trailing by only a point at the final change and with a good breeze at their backs in the final stanza, the Tigers were perfectly placed to win and they did so with authority.

Grafton full-forward Lee Anderson proved a thorn in the Sawtell side with his seven goals and was deservedly awarded the Woodlock Medal for being best on ground.

I saw Anderson play in the first match of the season and thought he would be a fantastic asset for Grafton and so it proved.

It's not often a captain-coach of a team down south turns up on your doorstep, yet this was the piece of luck that helped the Tigers become only the seventh team to win back-to-back titles in the 31-year history of the competition.

This column is sponsored by C.ex Coffs.

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