Blues back to winning ways in local AFL

Northern Beaches bounced back from its last start loss to Sawtell/Toormina with a comfortable victory at home over Nambucca Valley.

By Brad Greenshields, AFL North Coast

The Blues were never threatened by the opposition and scored a percentage boost with an 84-point win.

Northern Beaches jumped out of the blocks against an undermanned Lions outfit and managed to hit the scoreboard 10 times in the first quarter. The trouble was only one of those 10 scoring shots was between the big sticks.

Blues coach Rory Evans said the improved efficiency in front of goal after that came from a change in the team’s approach moving forward.

“We did shift and move the ball a little bit shorter,” Evans said.

“I just think we probably got a little bit excited. We did all the work we wanted to do to get the ball forward and then we got a bit excited once we got it there and didn’t lower our eyes. So it was a pretty big focus to make the most of how we went in and we did that and probably continued it for most of the rest of the match.”

The final margin could’ve been a lot greater as Nambucca Valley took to the field with only 13 players. The Blues extended a hand of friendship and loaned the Lions some players to help even up the numbers and it was agreed to play shorter quarters.

Northern Beaches managed to keep the visitors scoreless for the first three quarters but Nambucca Valley coach Leif Stuart said that situation helped his team focus in the final stanza.

“That last quarter we were just looking for a goal. Any sort of point just celebrate,” Stuart said.

“This club, no matter the result, we’re always laughing. It’s what you’ve got to do in this league, have a bit of fun no matter what sort of position you’re in.”

NORTHERN BEACHES 1.9 6.11 11.16 13.17 (95)
NAMBUCCA VALLEY 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.5 (11)
Goals – N.B: D.Bear 3, F.Duryea 3, N.Webber 2, L.McPherson, J.Berryman, M.Huthnance, M.Davey,B.Petrolo.N.V:A.Baldwin


Northern Beaches mid Nathan Biggs looks for a teammate to handball to against Nambucca Valley. Photo: Green Shoots Marketing

Tigers now face an uphill battle

THE fallout from Grafton’s 66-point loss at home is that the reigning premier may not even get to fire a shot come finals time in a bid to defend their title.

For the Tigers the loss means the destiny of their season is now in the hands of other teams. To sneak into the finals the Tigers not only need to all of their remaining three matches starting with the Coffs Breakers this Saturday, but they need the teams above them on the ladder to continue losing.

Port Macquarie kicked with the aid of a southerly breeze in the first term and put the sword to the Tigers in what was an important clash. The Magpies kicked nine goals to one to build a 50-point lead at quarter time and then went on to narrowly win the second term while kicking into the wind.

Magpies coach Matt Clarke said he was surprised by the size of the margin against Grafton but said it all started in the middle.

“We were able to win one clearance after another early and we had alot of forward entries on the back of that,” Clarke said.

“We had a couple of forwards in Tom Dickson and Braden Saggers who are guns and were able to capitalise super quickly on those entries.”

Clarke paid particular praise to a pair of 16 year-olds in Will Kelly and Jaxon Mawson who spent large portions of the match playing in the midfield for the first time. While more experienced players Royce Close and Kye Taylor were dangerous in that position, the Magpies were well served by the youngsters playing their first season of senior football.

“They really know how to give us good balance around the contest,” the coach observed.

GRAFTON 1.2 5.6 7.10 11.14 (80)
PORT MACQUARIE 9.4 14.7 17.11 22.14 (146)
Goals – Port: T.Dickson 6, A.Pratt 3, A.Byrne 2, B.Saggers 2, R.Close 2, K.Taylor 2, M.Bylsma, J.Mawson Gulliford, D.Boulet, N.Cameron-Hancock. Graf: B.Nelson 2, N.Swarski, J.Kelly, J.Boehme, J.Deefholts, T.Churchin, N.Wheaton, N.O’Neill, C.O’Neill, J.Ashby.

Reserves: Grafton won on forfeit. Under-17s: Grafton 8.9 (57) def Sawtell/Toormina 7.6 (48)

Saints continue winning ways

SAWTELL/Toormina’s late charge toward a possible finals berth continues to build momentum.

Last year’s runner-up travelled to Casino and recorded a 127-pint win over the Lions with Darryn Raglass and Luke Matthews combining to kick 13 of the Saints’ 27 goals.

The Saints have now won four of their past five matches and closed the percentage gap on Port Macquarie which sits in fourth position on the ladder just 7.36% ahead of Sawtell/Toormina.

For Casino, Saturday’s effort was the second straight time the Lions have kicked seven goals and their total of 7.4 (46) was their third highest score of the season, almost eclipsing their P.B of 54.

Goals – Saw: D.Ragless 7, L.Matthews 6, M.Pettifer 4, A.Pyke 2, H.Anderson 2, B.Bar Reech 2, L.Draper-Bell 2, T.Perks, J.Troutman. Cas: B.McKay 2, T.Myers, S.Fitzpatrick, M.Bradshaw, M.Malloy, A.Saunders.


Coffs Breakers11100190.911075579185.66
Northern Beaches1071275.00771499154.51
Lismore Swans1170463.641214545222.75
Port Macquarie1060460.00912702129.91
Nambucca Valley1110109.09414101740.71
Casino Lions1000100.00274170616.06

ROUND 12 – Saturday, July 17

(1.20pm – Women; 2.50pm – Seniors)
SAWTELL/TOORMINA vs PORT MACQUARIE at Richardson Park, Sawtell
(11.50am – Women; 1.20pm – Reserves; 2.50pm – Seniors)
COFFS BREAKERS vs GRAFTON at Fitzroy Oval/Old Camp, Coffs Harbour
(10am – Under-17s; 11.50am – Women; 1.20pm – Reserves; 2.50pm – Seniors)
NAMBUCCA VALLEY vs CASINO LIONS at EJ Biffin Oval, Nambucca Heads
(2.50pm – Seniors)

Womens AFL

It was a win eight matches in the making but it was worth the wait for Grafton.

The Tigers recorded their first ever win in the women’s competition with a hard fought 11-point victory over Port Macquarie at Ellem Oval.

Grafton led by a narrow margin at every change but goals to Alex Anderson-Bylos and Lily Doyle in the last quarter sealed the result.

The Tigers found themselves in a similar position a week ago when they hit the front early in the last term against the Lismore Swans before fading late. This week the young Tigers weren’t going to let the opportunity slip.

Coach Warren Bagnall was delighted with the win but said he didn’t give any special instructions during his three-quarter time address.

“Go and back themselves basically,” Bagnall said his message was.

“It wasn’t something too much that we were worried about working on. I know they’ve got the ability it was just about proving it and backing up last week’s performance and coming again against a side like Port. They (Port) are a good side, they took it Lismore a couple of weeks ago.”

Port Macquarie made a tremendous effort to make the almost three hour trip with a full team but try as they might, the Magpies couldn’t quite get the reward for its effort.

The result means the battle for fourth position and a finals berth is now a three-way tussle between the Tigers, Magpies and Sawtell/Toormina (see below for ladder).

Grafton’s team manager Chris Goodall said the win was more important than simply getting into the finals race. He said the victory will have positive ramifications looking toward the 2022 season.

“Little wins like that are significant win for us,” Goodall said.

“That will help boost our girls confidence and make them want to come back and play again.

GRAFTON 1.2 1.4 2.5 4.6 (30)
PORT MACQUARIE 1.0 1.0 2.1 3.1 (19)
Goals – Graf: A.Anderson-Bylos 3, L.Doyle. Port: E.Heeney, C.Frost, S.Hidson.

April Devine kicked three goals for the Coffs Breakers during their win over the Lismore Swans. Photo: Green Shoots Marketing

THE Coffs Breakers had their cage rattled by a last start loss and the ladder leaders responded with an authoritative performance.

The Breakers kicked eight unanswered goals against the Lismore Swans to record a convincing 55-point win and return to the winner’s list. Coach Brad Giri said Saturday’s performance came on the back of his team being the most focused they’s been for a while.

“The girls’ attitude changed, they’ve really switched on to footy now,” Giri said.

“We’re at the business end of the season, they know the target they’re after and it showed in their footy.”

April Devine kicked three goals for the victors as the forwards took advantage of a lop-sided inside-50 count driven by a hard-running midfield the coach was happy to have at his disposal once again.

“We had our midfield back this week. We’re only missing one from our midfield now and that made the ball movement 100 per cent better than it was last time we played,” he said.

Lismore Swans coach Ken McPherson said there were still positives to take away from the loss.

“We got it forward a little bit. I thought our back line was pretty solid and our on-ballers pushed into the back line a little bit more than they have been doing over the season,” McPherson said.

“We were a little light on in the forward line but a really good effort throughout the four quarters. The girls didn’t drop their heads and stop. They kept trying.”

McPherson added that losing to the Breakers, especially away from home, is nothing to be too disappointed about.

“They (the Breakers) are a quality side and they’re the benchmark of this competition that we need to build up to,” McPherson said.

“Looking forward to meeting them in the finals that’s for sure.”

COFFS BREAKERS 2.3 4.7 7.7 8.8 (56)
LISMORE SWANS 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 (1)
GoalS – Break: A.Devine 3, C.Ronalds, I.Crawley, K.Griffith, D.Watson , E.Rickards. Lis: Nil.


Coffs Breakers870187.5045482553.66
Northern Beaches760185.71325135240.74
Lismore Swans850362.50266209127.27
Port Macquarie720528.5711520256.93

ROUND 12 – Saturday, July 17

(1.20pm – Women; 2.50pm – Seniors)
SAWTELL/TOORMINA vs PORT MACQUARIE at Richardson Park, Sawtell
(11.50am – Women; 1.20pm – Reserves; 2.50pm – Seniors)
COFFS BREAKERS vs GRAFTON at Fitzroy Oval/Old Camp, Coffs Harbour
(10am – Under-17s; 11.50am – Women; 1.20pm – Reserves; 2.50pm – Seniors)
NAMBUCCA VALLEY vs CASINO LIONS at EJ Biffin Oval, Nambucca Heads
(2.50pm – Seniors)

Grafton players enjoy the thrill of victory after the final siren. Photo: Green Shoots Marketing

First published at AFL North Coast, 11 and 12 July 2021. See;

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