Two clear favourites for NCF grand final double header
THERE are two clear favourites for tonight's instalment of North Coast Football Clarence grand finals at Rushforth Park.
Undefeated seasons go on the line for both Grafton United Lights when they meet Yamba Breakers in the Under-15s at 6pm and Westlawn Tigers who take on Maclean Bobcats at 7.30pm in the Under-16s.
Both are defending premiers and have continued to be a class above in 2015.
'Lights' coach Doug Scott said keeping the same side together had been the key.
"The majority have been together since Under 6s. This their tenth season together," Scott said.
"Their success is built around a strong defence conceding only nine goals this season. Each season we look to improve on goals conceded and goals scored as well.
"At times we have played some very creative and quality football which has allowed our attack and midfield to score some very well constructed goals."
Previously under the Grafton City Soccer Club banner, the 'Lights' are the first minor premiers for the Grafton United FC venture in its foundation year.
Although undefeated in the regular season, the side faced one of its most difficult paths to the grand final including a penalty shootout in the semi-final against Maclean Green.
"The boys know they are going to have to be at their best against Yamba to win," Scott said. "The mood at training on Tuesday night gave me an indication the boys are up for the contest and are taking nothing for granted."
Yamba coach Mark Evans knows he has a difficult task ahead but is buoyed by his side's recent form, including a 3-0 win over Maclean to qualify for the decider.
"They're undefeated all season but we like our chances," Evans said. "We knocked off Maclean after we didn't beat them all season so hopefully we're peaking at the right time."
Attacking weapon Nathan Hollis, midfielder Liam Evans and defender Alex McConnell will look to control the game for Yamba, supported by an enthusiastic and vastly improving team of players.
Maclean Bobcats are facing a similarly ominous task against Westlawn in Under-16s. Previous scorelines read 4-1, 6-1 and 4-0 against the perennial heavyweights, who boast extensive Men's Reserve Grade and Premier League experience.
"We'll have to play our absolute best and have a bit of luck," Maclean coach Geoff Simmons admitted.
Jacob McMahon, Asher Neilsen and Jarrod Ensbey will also be involved in the Men's 3rd Division North grand final for Maclean Bobcats on Saturday.
Like 'Lights', the key for the Sheldon O'Loughlin coached Westlawn side is a core playing group that has been together for many years.
"The majority have played together for a while and it's good to see them relaxed and enjoying it this season," manager Kylee Baker said.
"Hopefully they keep doing what they're doing. The whole team's really developed well together and share the responsibility. They're an awesome bunch of kids."