Breakers inch ahead of Tigers in AFL North Coast thriller

About 90 minutes before the final siren at Ellem Oval, nobody saw the nail-biting contest that emerged coming.

By Brad Greenshields – AFL, North Coast

The Coffs Breakers had produced a dazzling opening term against the reigning premier, raced out to a 29-point lead and looked set to comfortably maintain its unbeaten record.

That script was turned on its head in the next two quarters when Grafton outscored the Breakers by eight goals to three to draw within two points at the final break.

In fact the Tigers found themselves 11-points in front when playing assistant coach and full-forward Tim Churchin kicked his eighth goal of the afternoon 10 minutes into the final term.

Breakers coach Kevin Wilson appealed to the character of his playing group at three-quarter time and it was a plea that at that stage looked like it might not have paid off.

“In the end I wasn’t worried about the score I was more worried about what we were doing,” Wilson said.

“I said to the boys at three-quarter time I don’t care about the score anymore, that’s not the be all and end all of today. It’s how you respond in this last quarter and what’s the character of this group. I said let’s go out an play our style of footy and try and get back on top.”

It was a goal from 17 year-old left footer Tyrone Roberts-Potter that brought the Breakers back within touching distance before Nicklaus Stanlan-Velt received a handball from Josh Hunt at a boundary stoppage before he kicked the goal that put them in front with six and a half minutes remaining.

Wilson did admit though that the way his team’s form can turn around so quickly within matches has left him scratching his head.

“How do we play for the whole four quarters rather than just the first quarter and the last quarter? We’ve got to get a lot more consistency around playing for four quarters,” he said.

“It was the same last week when we went off script against Lismore in that second quarter then found a way after half time toward getting back to what we want to do. That’s the challenge, to get these blokes thinking about consistency.”

This was the second close result at Ellem Oval this season after the Tigers had a draw with Northern Beaches in the opening round.

This match against the Breakers didn’t go their way but Tigers coach Adi Campbell was thrilled with the effort of his team despite the loss.

“We had probably 13 players out so to get that close to those blokes, I just couldn’t be happier,” Campbell said.

GRAFTON 2.1 6.2 10.5 12.6 (78)
COFFS BREAKERS 6.6 7.9 9.13 11.16 (82)
Goals – Breakers: M.McMahon 3, O.McKenzie 2, H.Proctor 2, J.Guthrie, N.Stanlan-Velt, T.Roberts-Potter. Graf: T.Churchin 8, D.Perich 2, C.O’Neill, J.Boehme.
Reserves: Coffs Breakers 14.9 (93) def Grafton 4.1 (25)
Under-17s: Coffs Breakers 22.9 (141) def Grafton 12.11 (83)

Nate Biggs fires out a handball to a Northern Beaches teammate against the Lismore Swans. Photo: Green Shoots Marketing

IT was a brave effort in defeat by the Lismore Swans at Woolgoolga.

The Swans took to Centennial Oval with only 18 players and were dearly hoping for a fast start with the aid of the breeze against Northern Beaches. Instead they walked in at quarter time already 21-points down, no replacements on the bench and kicking into the breeze in the second term.

Some might’ve turned their toes up and thought it was a task too great for them but this Lismore team proved they’re made of sterner stuff than that.

Lismore fought hard to lose the second term by only seven points before kicking two unanswered goals in the third quarter to reduce the deficit to just 15-points.

Northern Beaches steadied though in the last term and used their fresher legs to draw away to a 35-point win. Fraser Duryea again proved a match winner in front of goal booting five.

Coach Rory Evans said the reason for the second and third quarters being relatively even were a reflection on his team.

“I think we maintained control for most of the match but not for as long as we’d like to,” Evans said.

“I think we tried to let our talent win the match for us and moved away from our structures because of that.

“They (Lismore) had a last ditch effort to try and get in a winning position then obviously in the fourth quarter we got back to the way we want to play but the Swans made us work hard for it.”

It was the second win in a row for the Blues who jumped to second spot on the ladder with a slightly superior match ratio to Lismore and Port Macquarie.

NORTHERN BEACHES 4.4 7.5 7.8 10.11 (71)
LISMORE SWANS 1.3 3.3 5.5 5.6 (36)
Goals – N.Bch: F.Duryea 5, M.Huthnance 2, C.Frangos, D.Pearce, N.Webber. Swans: L.Foenander 2, T.Mowbray,J.Ashby, E.McNutt.

Northern Beaches utility Chris Frangos jumps from the side to make a gaol line spoil against the Lismore Swans. Photo: Green Shoots Marketing

PORT Macquarie’s running game and fatigue brought Sawtell/Toormina undone at Wayne Richards Park.

A lot of the Saints players did the right thing by the club and played matches in both the reserves and seniors but doing the right thing has cost the Saints’ top team some valuable percentage.

At quarter time the Saints had shown plenty of energy and were neck and neck with Port Macquarie.

The second term saw the Magpies grow in confidence and use overlap run to build an unassailable 48-point lead thanks to an eight goals to one effort. Braden Saggers was the biggest beneficiary of the new found dominance kicking four goals for the quarter on his way to a total of six.

After the main break the Saints worked hard on minimising Port’s scoring and did so to a degree but couldn’t avoid falling to a 119-point loss.

The result has seen Port Macquarie move into the top-four. An added bonus for the Magpies was three goals from three-time Brian Saville Medalist Jesse Schmidt who played his first game for the season.

PORT MACQUARIE 1.3 9.7 15.15 19.18 (132)
SAWTELL/TOORMINA 1.1 2.1 2.1 2.1 (13)
Goals – Port: B.Saggers 6, J.Schmidt 3, T.Dickson 3, J.Embling 2, H.King, K.Taylor, N.Cameron-Hancock, R.Close, A.Byrne. Saw: L.Draper-Bell, J.Perks.
Reserves: Sawtell/Toormina 14.11 (95) def Port Macquarie 4.5 (29)
Under-17s: Sawtell/Toormina 17.11 (113) def Tamworth Roosters 2.7 (19) – played at Tamworth.

Casino president Ben Hunt presents Nambucca Valley’s Haydn Suridge with the inaugural Lion Cup. Photo: Jordan Smith Photography

NAMBUCCA Valley won the first Lion Cup match against Casino Lions but it was a closely fought affair.

Nambucca was well served up front by Aaron Clarke (six goals) and playing-coach Leif Stuart who kicked four goals in his first match of the season.

Just when things started to look comfortable though for the visitors, Casino found some drive and were within sight of pulling off a come from behind victory.

“We got to within eight points during the last quarter and then unfortunately we just let a few goals slip through towards the end,” Casino forward Tim Myers said.

“I think we just got ahead of ourselves when we got to within eight points and got carried away and lost our way a bit.”

Myers was damaging on the scoreboard kicking six of Casino’s eight goals.

The win was Nambucca Valley’s first of the season

CASINO LIONS 8.5 (53) lost to NAMBUCCA VALLEY 12.4 (76)
Goals – N.V: A.Clarke 6, L.Stuart 4, T.Morris, A.McDonald. Cas: T.Myers 6, G.Oliver, M.McDonald.

The big boys fly during the Lion Cup battle at Queen Elizabeth Park between Casino Lions and Nambucca Valley. Photo: Jordan Smith Photography.

Lead photo: Coffs Breakers captain Liam Beacom just gets to the hitout before his Grafton opponent. Photo: Green Shoots Marketing


Coffs Breakers5500100533286186.36
Northern Beaches421162.50258234110.26
Lismore Swans530260.00646319202.51
Port Macquarie530260.00501361138.78
Nambucca Valley510420.0017947038.09
Casino Lions50050.0013075917.13

Grafton’s Clancy O’Neill manages to avoid a tackle from Nicklaus Stanlan-Velt of the Coffs Breakers. Photo: Green Shoots Marketing

COFFS BREAKERS vs PORT MACQUARIE at Fitzroy Oval – the Old Camp Yaam Nguura Jalumgal, Coffs Harbour
(U/17s vs Sawtell/Toormina – 9.50am; Women – 11.40am; Reserves – 1.30pm; Seniors – 3pm)
(Women – 12.20pm; Seniors – 1.50pm)
CASINO LIONS vs NORTHERN BEACHES at Queen Elizabeth Park, Casino
(Seniors – 2.50pm)
GRAFTON vs NAMBUCCA VALLEY at Ellem Oval, Grafton
(U/17s vs Glen Innes – 11am; Reserves vs Northern Beaches – 1.30pm; Seniors – 2.50pm)


First published Monday 24 May 2021 at

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