Sawtell- Toormina open the season against Grafton Tigers.
Sawtell- Toormina open the season against Grafton Tigers. Gemima Harvey

After dominating 2015 Saints to find competition is stronger

SO DOMINANT did Sawtell-Toormina prove on their way to the 2015 AFL North Coast flag that before each match it was often difficult for player-coach Jim Angel to find something new to say.

Behind the scenes, he hinted at the struggle to keep players in a team so obviously superior to their rivals to stay motivated and not drop in performance long enough to experience an unexpected defeat.

However, the new cross-conference format and rejuvenated local opponents presents plenty of motivating factors.

"The new format delivers something very different and makes for interesting times," Angel said.

'Teams are stronger, both in the local league and up north, and we'll need to be at our best every week and not fall into the trap of playing 2015 over and over in your head week after week."

The squad has been together since last November, more evidence of the professional approach that's kept the club on top for so long.

Angel has had big numbers at training and has managed a couple of good pick-ups.

"Our champion junior Jack Gillingham has returned from Newcastle after finishing university," he revealed.

"Jack brings real class to the team and we'll be ever better having him here again.

"I also like the look of Lachlan Christopher who comes to us from Mansfield in Victoria.

"He's just 19 but is a real on-baller and seems to be full off promise."

The Saints start today with a visit to Ellem Oval for a meeting against the Grafton Tigers.

The Tigers had a slow start to training but there's been an influx as the first bounce drew closer.

"It's hard to say what we'll face but for most quarters they'll give us something to chase," Angel said.

In the other round, Coffs Breakers play away to Port Macquarie Magpies at Wayne Richards Park.

With no reserve grade game scheduled, the Under-18 match will now start at noon.



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