ONE WAY TICKET: Tigers playing for spot in AFLNC decider
PLENTY to play for at both ends of the AFL North Coast men’s ladder in round 10 as the competition enters the penultimate round.
A win for the table topping Grafton Tigers on foreign territory at the Sawtell Toormina Saints will see them claim the first spot in the grand final.
The Tigers have been a rags to riches story in 2020, going from cellar dwellers to an absolute premiership force. Earning the right to play in the season decider will be the next step in the club’s resurrection.
Their opponents were light on numbers last week and had to work hard to scratch together a team. Despite this, the Saints gave a good showing of themselves but were stung by the loss to the Breakers.
At full strength, the Saints have the capacity to match it with Grafton. This was evident in the draw that occurred between the two teams back in round 5, but the Sawtell players know that anything less than 100 per cent commitment is likely to end in disappointment.
Port Macquarie Magpies are playing for pride when they take on Coffs Harbour Breakers at Fitzroy Oval.
The Magpies are in an unenviable position after falling out of the race for the finals and need to use the remaining two rounds of home and away footy to build towards 2021.
All at the club will be disappointed with the way the season has panned out, knowing that, at full strength, they had the troops to compete with all comers.
Getting a consistent team on the park has been the challenge throughout the season while the lack of a reserve grade team has often meant that their depth was tested.
The Breakers know that a win against Port will give them the upper hand in the race for second spot and hosting rights for the semi-finals.
Sawtell currently hold the advantage courtesy of the draw against Grafton from earlier in the season, but a slip up against the Tigers opens the door for Breakers to leapfrog ahead of their rivals.
Breakers are on a two-match winning run which surprisingly, is the strongest form they’ve shown all season. This is a must win match if the Coffs team wants to mount a serious defence of their premiership.
The rich rivalry continues as Sawtell Toormina and Coffs Harbour meet in a local derby in the women’s competition.
With final ladder positions already decided neither team stands to gain an advantage for the run to the finals. However, both teams will be keen for a strong showing as they prepare to meet again in the coming weeks.
The Saints have had a torrid time with injuries this season but are starting to see these players return. Their best performance was back in round 1 when they last had a fully fit roster so they’ll be looking to use this match to fine tune ahead of the do or die semi-final.
In what has been a tough season for the Sawtell women, they’re only one win away from a spot in the grand final. The Saints need a good performance in round 10 to give themselves the confidence to believe that they can get to the big dance and won’t just be making up the numbers.
Breakers have been the form team of the season and won’t want to drop a match at this late stage. They know the other teams are gunning for them and have done a terrific job as the competition’s front runners.
Just like Sawtell, they’ll be looking to build on their momentum for the grand final which is only three matches away. This will no doubt be a source of inspiration for the team as they look to ensure that their focus doesn’t slip in the last couple of matches that have no bearing on the finals.