It’s amazing that over the course of a long football season just how much of a difference a few points here or there can make. Sawtell/Toormina’s senior team is a classic example.
By Brad Greenshields
The Saints won their fifth consecutive match on Saturday in a highly entertaining clash against Northern Beaches to move up to third position on the ladder.
But when you look at that winning run, it’s easy to see a completely different scenario for last year’s runner-up. Sawtell/Toormina’s first win was against Nambucca Valley by a margin of just five points. The past two matches have been victories over Port Macquarie by three points and on Saturday the margin against the Blues was just seven points.
Every single one of those nail-biting victories has been vital in seeing the Saints jump into third position on the ladder.
“We knew that after the mid-season break that every single game leading up to the finals is a must win and that’s five in a row for us now and we’ve just got to keep winning,” Lee said.
“We know that it (playing finals) is not a lock yet. We’re preparing for Lismore next week.”
The Saints came from 19 points down at quarter time after the Blues with the aid of the northerly breeze in the first term kicked away to a fast start.
Northern Beaches full forward Evan Duryea was proving deadly in front of the big sticks and he finished the day booting seven of the Blues’ 12 goals.
After the first break the Saints slowly whittled away at the Northern Beaches lead.
At half time the margin was reduced to just two points and at the end of the third term a close tussle was unfolding as the difference was just a straight kick.
Duryea extended the lead early in the last with a goal but Sawtell/Toormina kept on coming. It wasn’t until a late goal from Lachlan Draper-Bell that the Saints finally hit the lead before Tayler Perks kicked the sealer.
NORTHERN BEACHES 5.3 7.6 11.6 12.8 (80)
SAWTELL/TOORMINA 2.2 7.4 10.6 13.9 (87)
Goals – Saw: A.Pyke 2, D.Matthews 2, J.Perks 2, T.Perks 2, S.Botma 2, A.Anderson, L.Draper-Bell, J.Troutman. N.B: E.Duryea 7, M.Davey 3, F.Duryea, S.Burow.
Reserves: Sawtell/Toormina 8.13 (61) def Northern Beaches 5.7 (37)
Blues women wrap up double chance
NORTHERN Beaches secured a berth in the 2nd Semi Final against the top of the ladder Coffs Breakers by recording a comfortable win over Sawtell/Toormina.
The Blues were hardly troubled at Centennial Oval and won by 63 points.
Yet the highlight of the contest came late when the two teams worked together to ensure Sawtell/Toormina’s Chloe Muir kicked a goal that put a smile on everybody’s face. (scroll down to the bottom of the page for a picture).
“We spoke about how we feel like winners today, how getting around Chloe was much more important than getting a win,” Sawtell/Toormina coach Bec Minichilli said after the match.
“I know the game was pretty much over well before Chloe got the ball but we’re lucky that we’ve got her and we can have that experience so the loss doesn’t hurt as much.”
Northern Beaches shared the goal kicking around and leadership group member and captain for the day Ashleigh Miller was one of seven goalkickers for the Blues during the match.
She said the improved ball movement the Blues showed against Sawtell/Toormina was pleasing as it’s an aspect of their game that’s been getting plenty of attention at training.
“We’ve just been doing a lot of work on moving the ball and transitioning it. So switching it across the ground, trying to move into space, pushing back when we do get a mark and just being there for each other basically,” Miller said.
“So we’re just trying to work on linking it up, getting the consecutive marks and handballs.”
Minichilli said her players should celebrate with gusto every time one of their teammates won a battle or showed improvement even though they’re behind on the scoreboard.
“To you they might be little victories but to us they’re big victories,” she said.
“We’ve never been under any illusion about our skill level given how many new players we’ve had and to the naked eye they might look like tiny victories but to us, when we’ve been working on them for so long, it’s not a little victory it’s a big victory because we’ve been working on it and working on it and then it’s finally implemented during a game so we should celebrate it.”
NORTHERN BEACHES 2.2 4.3 6.8 10.9 (69)
SAWTELL/TOORMINA 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.0 (6)
Goals – N.B: K.McIntosh 2, B.Schofield 2, S.King 2, A.Miller, J.Midavaine, M.McAlister, S.Bower. Saw: C.Muir.
ROUND 13 – Saturday, July 31
SAWTELL/TOORMINA vs LISMORE SWANS at Richardson Park, Sawtell
12.50pm – Women; 2.20pm – Seniors
NORTHERN BEACHES vs CASINO LIONS at Centennial Oval, Woolgoolga
1.20pm – Reserves (Blues vs Tigers); 2.50pm – Seniors
GRAFTON vs NAMBUCCA VALLEY at Ellem Oval, Grafton
2.50pm – Seniors
PORT MACQUARIE vs COFFS BREAKERS at Wayne Richards Park, Port Macquarie
11.50am – Women; 1.20pm – Reserves; 2.50pm – Seniors
UNDER-17s CROSS CONFERENCE MATCHES
INVERELL SAINTS vs GRAFTON – 10am at Bellevue Oval, Armidale
SAWTELL/TOORMINA vs GLEN INNES CELTS – 11am at Richardson Park, Sawtell
TAMWORTH ROOSTERS vs COFFS BREAKERS – 11.30am at Tamworth No.1 Oval, Tamworth
First published at AFL North Coast – Monday 26 July. See; https://aflnorthcoast.com.au/2021/07/26/fine-margins-make-all-the-difference/