Tigers notch up solid win
THE Grafton Tigers AFL side has continued its unbeaten run in the North Coast AFL competition with a solid win over the Nambucca Valley Lions at Macksville on Saturday.
A game billed as the match of the round saw the top two teams go head to head in their first encounter of the year, with both wanting to win to assert their strength as the competition front-runners.
The match started with the Tigers dominating early possession from the midfield to open a 13-point lead before Nambucca could open their scoring.
Ruckman Graeme Connolly combined well with midfielders Ron Davis, Dale Beaver and Joel Sword to keep the ball inside the forward line and the pressure on the Lions.
At the end of the first quarter, Grafton were leading by 30 points.
Nambucca regrouped in the second quarter to apply the pressure back onto the Tigers, keeping the ball inside Grafton’s defensive line.
Half-backs Justin Darby, Ryan Sheather and Dion McGregor worked tirelessly to prevent the Lions coming back into the game, only allowing a goal to Aaron Clarke and a behind to be added to the Nambucca total.
Meanwhile Grafton extended their lead with the forwards of Dan Zacek and Shawn Purton continually outplaying their opponents for contested marks and converting those into valuable points for the Tigers to go to the half-time break leading by 38 points.
The third quarter provided a strong tussle in the midfield with a lot of scrappy play and hard, contested football.
Both teams' defensive lines worked overtime to constantly return the ball back to the centre, resulting in only one goal to each team with three behinds allowing the Tigers to extend their lead to 41 at the final break.
With the game only for the Tigers to lose at the beginning of the fourth quarter, the match became a physical and spiteful contest, with three Lions sin binned for striking early in the quarter.
This allowed Grafton to open up the Lions defence resulting in the addition of four goals before the teams were even again.
Another melee 10 minutes from full time resulted in the send-off of a Grafton player for striking and allowed Nambucca to use their advantage to add a late goal to their total.
At the end of round 5, Grafton are the only undefeated side in the competition with a two-win lead at the top of the North Coast AFL ladder. Next week the Tigers host the North Coffs Kangaroos at J J Lawrence Field.
Final score: Grafton Tigers – 12.18 (90) def Nambucca Valley Lions – 5.5 (35)
Goal scorers for Grafton were Dan Zacek 4, Shawn Purton 3, Dale Beaver 2 and Luke Hayman, Sam Morrison and Josh Sheather 1.
Best Players for the Tigers were Dan Zacek, Ron Davis, Justin Darby, Shawn Purton, Graeme Connelly. Man of the match: Joel Sword.