GOLDEN CHANCE: A grand final spot is on the line when Sawtell/Toormina meets Coffs Swans. Photo: Leigh Jensen
GOLDEN CHANCE: A grand final spot is on the line when Sawtell/Toormina meets Coffs Swans. Photo: Leigh Jensen Leigh Jensen

Swans or Saints - who'll be first into the grand final?

A BERTH in this year's grand final and a week of rest is up for grabs this afternoon.

Sawtell/Toormina and Coffs Swans have been the two dominant AFL North Coast forces this year and now both are only one win away from qualifying for the big dance.

When it comes to making grand finals, it's fair to say the Saints know what it's all about while the Swans are entering new territory.

Sawtell/Toormina has played in eight of the past nine grand finals, while the Swans have only played in the one season-decider since the club's last success in 1999.

Saints playing coach Jim Angel said experience playing on the greater expanse of C.ex Coffs International Stadium was always a bonus, but having the goalposts brought in this season to create a smaller ground takes away that advantage.

Be that as it may, Angel knows it doesn't matter where you play, if you haven't got the ball it counts for little.

"It all starts at the centre bounce and starts at the contests," Angel said.

"As long as it goes well there, we're pretty confident with what we've got around the ground to be able to take advantage of it."

While Sawtell/Toormina has a wealth of finals experience, fact is the Saints have lost the past two grand finals - but atoning for past sins is something Angel's boys aren't talking about.

"It was spoken about at the start of the year when the boys committed to doing extra training but it hasn't been spoken of since," the coach said.

"There's lots of different blokes in the team this year anyway, so it's a bit irrelevant as probably half of the team hasn't experienced those losses."

Coffs Swans coach Jay Guthrie has finals experience on his side from his playing days in Victoria and he said handling the step up in pace and early intensity would be important.

"Generally, what happens in finals is the first team to settle and get into the pattern of their play wins the game," Guthrie said.

"The biggest thing we'll be trying to do is that.

"Last time around against Sawtell we ran out the game pretty well so the fitness is there, we've just got to compose ourselves quicker."

Guthrie believes of the three encounters these teams have had this year, the two close matches are a true pointer towards what spectators can expect this afternoon.

"Both sides match up fairly evenly across the ground," he said.

"There's no real player you can isolate on either team to try and get a mismatch you can use to your advantage."


At C.ex Coffs International Stadium

Seniors - 2.20pm: Sawtell/Toormina v Coffs Swans

Reserves - 1.00pm: Port Macquarie v Sawtell/Toormina

Under-18s - 11.00am: Port Macquarie v Sawtell/Toormina

Winners through to grand final on Saturday, August 23