The Saints will meet Coffs Swans in the season decider after sweeping aside Port Magpies' challenge in the preliminary final.
The Saints will meet Coffs Swans in the season decider after sweeping aside Port Magpies' challenge in the preliminary final. Leigh Jensen

No rainy day blues for Saints as they enter AFL grand final

PREPARE for a blockbuster local derby in next weekend's AFL North Coast grand final after Sawtell-Toormina swept past Port Macquarie as rain tumbled down on C.ex Coffs Internationals Stadium.

Knowing something's coming and being able to do something about are two different things.

For the fourth time this season Sawtell/Toormina opened up a big quarter time lead against Port Macquarie and there was nothing the Magpies could do about it.

The reward this time for Sawtell/Toormina's early dominance is a berth in the grand final against Coffs Swans.

During the home and away season, the Saints had led by an average margin of 28 points at the first break and the trend continued at C.ex Coffs International Stadium. This time, in a big final, the margin at quarter time was 33 points and with the rain falling the match was effectively over as a contest.

"They've done it to us every time this year, we were ready for it but we just couldn't do anything about it," Port Macquarie playing-coach Scott Abercrombie bemoaned.

Jed Ellis-Cluff proved dangerous for the Saints in front of goal kicking four goals while Daniel Johnson, Sam Taylor and Luke Benson provided plenty of grunt in the midfield.

After last week's loss in the 2nd Semi Final to the Coffs Swans, Sawtell/Toormina playing-coach Jim Angel admitted he didn't have to provide much motivation for the Saints playing group pre-game.

"It was a good kick in the pants," Angel said.

"You can't be so far ahead in the for column and so far ahead in the against and dish up that.

"We knew what we were capable of and we showed it today."

Having opened up an early lead, the Saints didn't put the cue in the rack. In fact the second quarter was almost a carbon copy of the first with another six goals to one term.

It was a display that had Angel grinning post-game believing the Saints adhered to the game plan as well as they've done at ant stage in 2014.

"No matter who was in the 22, that was the game plan we've played all year," he said.

"We had a few things hidden in our pocket we wanted to show today and we showed them and hopefully we'll continue on."

As far as Abercrombie could see, the result simply came down to desire.

"Unfortunately they wanted it more," he said.

"For the first half, every time you looked at a contest when it was 50:50, they were the first ones in, the first to get their hands on it and then they were the next ones to get their hands on it.

"If you're second or third to the ball, it doesn't make it easy."

Next Saturday, it will be Coffs Swans standing in the way of Sawtell-Toormina for the flag.

The  Swans will be chasing the club's first senior premiership since 1999.

The match marks the 20th year of AFL finals at the venue and a plaque-unveiling ceremony marking the occasion will be held prior to the start of the main event.


Preliminary Final results
SAWTELL/TOORMINA 6.3 12.5 12.11 14.16 (100)
PORT MACQUARIE 1.0 2.1 2.1 2.1 (13)
Goals - Saw: J Ellis-Cluff 4, G Faithfull 2, J Angel 2, B Foote 2, J Neaves, B Matthews, S Taylor, D Johnson. Port: A Eckermann, T Stone.
Best - Saw: S Taylor, D Johnson, N Johnson, J Ellis-Cluff, L Benson, G Faithfull. Port: M Lim, J Smith, K Lynch, L Long, B Nelson, I Brambley.
Reserves: Port Macquarie 9.8 (62) def Camden Haven 6.7 (43)
Under-18s: Sawtell/Toormina 8.7 (55) def Coffs Swans 4.12 (36)

At C.ex Coffs International Stadium - Saturday, August 23
2.30pm - Seniors: Coffs Swans v Sawtell/Toormina
1.00pm - Reserves: Sawtell/Toormina v Port Macquarie
11.00am - Under-18s: Port Macquarie v Sawtell/Toormina