The North Coast AFL Grand final against Sawtell/Toormina Saints at Coffs Harbour’s BCU International Stadium.
The North Coast AFL Grand final against Sawtell/Toormina Saints at Coffs Harbour’s BCU International Stadium. Rob Wright

Tigers keep the faith

THE record books will never tell the true story of Saturday's North Coast Aussie Rules grand final.

That Grafton Tigers defeated Sawtell-Toormina Saints 104-56, hardly reads like an exciting match.

If the record shows the score breakdown at end of quarter, then historians of the future will realise what an absolute stonker of a grand final the Grafton Tigers played in 2012.

Trailing at quarter-time, half-time, and still at three-quarter time, the Tigers pulled out all stops in a miraculous final term to pile on 50 points to the Saint's one.

No misprint there; 50-1.

"They say the second (premiership) is harder to win, well it was," retiring Tigers captain Daniel Zacek said.

"Our second half was brilliant. We knew if we could hang in there with them at three-quarter time then we'd be ready to go."

A howling southerly wind at Coffs Harbour's BCU International Stadium guaranteed that both teams would be hard pressed to score against the breeze.

The Tigers had to grit their teeth and face the wind in the first term but they started brilliantly with two early goals.

However the wind soon took effect and Sawtell played the remainder of the quarter in the Tigers' half, racing to the first break with a 28-16 advantage.

The Tigers were flat in the second term and failed to take full advantage of the wind assistance, although they did manage to close the margin to eight at half-time.

"They ran all over us in the second quarter when we had the wind," Zacek said. "We came in (to that quarter) and we were flat, and down, and it reminded me very much of last year.

"But we set ourselves a goal to be up at three-quarter time and I think we (went into that break) a point down.

"Then we just threw all our guns in the midfield in the last quarter and the result speaks for itself."

With the wind at their backs again, it didn't take long for the Tigers to hit the lead in the final term.

A 50 metre penalty gave the Tigers an easy goal from the top of the square, before Sean Duroux slammed home a major only a minute later to give them a margin.

At this point, seasoned Tigers supporters were heard praying for two more majors to extend the lead to four goals.

And the prayers were answered in multiples.

The game turned at the next breakdown, with a loose ball picked up from behind the boundary ruck and belted forward from the corner of the centre square.

At 60 metres out from the goal umpire, the ball sailed over the heads of the defenders and bounced, and bounced, and bounced past the feet of the official who didn't move an inch before laying out two pointed fingers as though to brag about the length of a decent sized fish.

From that point, the Tigers were untouchable as they slammed home a further five goals in their eight-goal quarter to run away with the match and deny the spirited Saints line-up.

"The boys worried me for the first three quarters, but they really brought it home in the final term and I couldn't be happier," Tigers coach Adrian Campbell said.

Tigers full forward Lee Anderson was in super touch and kept the Tigers in the match at times, nailing seven goals on the way to collecting the Woodlock Medal for best on ground, narrowly ahead of last year's winner Evan Dureya.

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