It will be on from the first whistle
AUSSIE RULES: The scene is set for the two biggest matches of the season to date to be played out in Port Macquarie this Saturday.
The Port Macquarie Magpies host the Coffs Harbour Breakers and the senior and women's matches will pit first against second in encounters which could provide the best insight yet into how the 2019 competitions will play out.
In the senior grade, the two teams are level on points and are separated by a small margin in percentage.
The teams have faced off twice this season and the ledger stands at one win apiece. Interestingly, both matches were played at the Breakers home ground where the Magpies overcame that disadvantage in the last encounter to claim a hard-fought and deserved win.
This is the best indicator Port should go into Saturday's match at home as the favourites to claim the spoils.
The women's match is also evenly poised.
Port holds a two-point lead on the ladder over the Breakers and a win in this clash will allow them to open a handy gap over their nearest rivals.
A win for the Breakers will see them leapfrog Port and assume the top spot.
The other fixture of the round has Sawtell Toormina Saints at home against Grafton in men's and the Northern Beaches/Grafton in women's.
Both clubs are enduring challenging seasons. Sawtell are the reigning premiers in both grades but the defence of their titles hasn't gone to plan. Retirements, players leaving town and injuries have all contributed to the challenges faced by the men's and women's.
The Saints' men played two good quarters last week and were excellent in the third term when they fought their way back into the match against Breakers. If they can replicate that form for a full four-quarter effort they will trouble any team in the competition. Their two wins of the season have come against Grafton and they need to rack up the trifecta to ensure they maintain a modicum of contact with the top two teams.
In the women's match, Sawtell find themselves in the rare position of having gone two rounds without a win. Last week they welcomed back premiership players Kasey Uikelotu and Keira Basset from the injury ward and both should be better for the run.
Northern Beaches/Grafton have struggled at times in their debut season but that was to be expected. The team has given the other clubs 12 months head start which, in a competition in its infancy, is a huge advantage.
The Blue Tigers came within four points of claiming their first win when the two teams last met and will be hoping the experience of players such as Rani Grant, Ash Miller, Deanna Paul and Britt Hargreaves can inspire the newer players to an even greater effort.