AFL NORTH COAST: Junior grand finals go ahead with a twist
THE big moment is almost here for the eight teams contesting the AFL North Coast junior grand finals.
In a season of uncertainty, the only question left to be answered on Sunday is which teams will claim the premiership in each of the four grades?
This season’s modified format see the top two teams from each age group progress straight to the big dance.
The day kicks off with the under-11 clash between Port Macquarie Magpies and Coffs Harbour Breakers.
In the 20 matches played by the two teams this season there has only been one loss, and that was to the Breakers when they played Port.
That fact alone sends the Magpies into this decider as slight favourites, which is further enhanced by some of the players in the team having experienced the same occasion in 2019 when Port claimed the premiership flag.
Breakers will take comfort in the knowledge that the loss to Port occurred way back in round 3, but the team has developed significantly since that time and will back themselves to get the job done on Sunday.
The under-13 match sees another defending premiers Nambucca Valley Lions who are up against Port Macquarie Swoopers.
To say the Lions have been a revelation in the junior competition is something of an understatement. This season’s grand final presents the club with an opportunity to claim its third premiership since it formed just four years ago.
Port Swoopers are the only team to have beaten Nambucca this season in a thrilling encounter. From being level at the last break, the Swoopers managed to scrape away with a narrow seven point win in a match befitting a grand final.
The Swoopers two losses of the season both came against their stablemates, the Port Macquarie Flyers. There’s no chance that the Lions will be able to get any intel on those matches.
Sawtell Toormina Saints and Bellingen Bulldogs will mark their rapid rise in the Youth Girls competition when they face off against each other.
Both of these teams only formed last season and to be playing off in a grand final two years on is a testament to the clubs.
Sawtell have been the dominant team this season, going into the grand final with an unblemished record and will definitely start as favourites. However, Bellingen does have the chance to draw on last year’s experience of playing in a grand final at C.ex Coffs International Stadium, the value of which shouldn’t be underestimated.
These teams happened to play each other last Friday night in a seesawing encounter that ultimately saw the Saints victorious by just four points. Bellingen actually had more scoring shots on the night so will know that if they can kick straight on Sunday, they could spring the surprise of the season.
The under-15 match closes the day the same way it started – with a clash between Port Macquarie and Coffs Harbour.
Just two years ago that neither club was able to field a team in this age group. Last season the collective effort was four wins from 29 starts so the form reversal of each has been incredible.
In two meetings this season each team managed to claim the win on home soil by a margin of three goals. With the grand final set down for neutral territory, this match should go down to the wire.
Port and Breakers are two of the league’s most successful clubs in this age group. Port last claimed the title in 2017, with Breakers crowned premiers the year prior.
Each club will be desperate to finish the day with a win before many of the players transition into the Senior competition next season.
To comply with COVID requirements, our Grand Finals will be ticketed as this allows us to maintain a register and have an increased capacity on the day.
Tickets are available via Eventbrite. If you’re planning on attending on Sunday please feel free to go online and grab a free ticket.
2020 AFL North Coast Junior Grand Final program:
9:30am under-11 – Port Macquarie Magpies vs Coffs Harbour Breakers
11:10am under-13 – Nambucca Valley Lions vs Port Macquarie Swoopers
12:50pm Youth Girls – Sawtell Toormina Saints vs Bellingen Bulldogs
2:30pm under-15 – Port Macquarie Magpies vs Coffs Harbour Breakers