North Coast in a breeze
THE ability to take advantage of a two to three goal breeze paved the way for the AFL North Coast's representative team to claim their seventh straight Northern NSW title at Inverell on Sunday.
Undefeated in their two shortened matches on Saturday to qualify for yesterday's full length final, North Coast turned a three point lead at the first change into an unassailable 32 point advantage at half time.
Giant Port Macquarie ruckman Jon Stephens continually gave the hard working North Coast midfield first use of the ball at the stoppages, with Matt Newton and captain Brad Giri making full use to pump the ball forward to a hungry forward line.
Mercurial Saint Luke Matthews was the main beneficiary, finishing the final with five goals while Tristan Snow for the second year in a row proved he's than a hard nut in a following role by bagging three goals himself.
North Coast suffered a slight wobble late in the third term when Tamworth/Armidale snagged three quick goals against the run of play to close the margin to 23 points at the final break.
But a six goal final term while managing to keep their deflated opponents scoreless finished off an emphatic victory.
"There was a bit of a breeze that favoured one end and we held them fairly well in the first quarter," a proud North Coast coach Rod McPherson said.
"We ran away from them in the next and even though they got those goals in third, overall I thought we controlled them well when they were kicking with the wind."
Late withdrawals before the weekend tournament meant that the local North Coast league were forced into fielding a lot of young players on the weekend but McPherson couldn't have been more impressed with their performances.
"Tristan McCormack on Saturday was quiet and felt a little bit out of it on Saturday night but we had a chat with him and in the final he stood up and was really good," the coach said.
"Other young guys like Jeremy Ward and Paul Raithby were good while Jesse Schmidt was sensational for us.
"The young players really contributed and Luke Benson was asked to do a stopping job in the final on one player that we recognised as being a key for them and he did a great job, wearing the other bloke like a skin."
McPherson now has five wins in the five years he's been at the helm but he's resisting the urge to chase a sixth win next year.
"I'm definitely not coaching next year, it's time to have a rest," he said.
"I think it's time to spread it around a bit now that representative footy within the league has been set up and is healthy with so many committed to the concept.
"While that's going on it's time to give someone else a go."