ROOS? GRAND PLAN
By CHRIS McKINLEY
AN UPSET 18-point victory has amazingly, propelled North Coffs into their seventh consecutive grand final.
In easily the most desperate game of football played all year, a strong first half performance set up the Kangaroos victory over red hot favourite Sawtell.
Surprisingly though, 'Roos coach David Velt believes that the chance of playing in another grand final was not the main motivation behind his team's performance on Saturday.
"A month ago when they (Sawtell) beat us by 70 points we were embarrassed," Velt said.
"A lot of the guys today just wanted to come out and prove that they're better footballers than what they showed last time around."
One player who put in an absolute blinder for North Coffs was centreman Brad Giri.
In a game that very hard, but not spiteful, every player on the field displayed a zealous attack on the football but Giri was supreme when it came to controlling the football in the hard, tight situations that he always places himself.
Many at North Coffs joke that Giri is in fact David Velt's love child such is his affection for the way Giri goes about his business.
Saturday was no exception as Velt was gushing in praise about the best on ground performance.
"Brad Giri is the best player in the competition, it's as simple as that," the coach said.
"The number of best on grounds that he gets every year in the big matches is testament to how good a player he is when the going gets tough."
While most observers are stunned that North Coffs are the first team to book a table at the grand final banquet, they also noted that although Sawtell finished behind on the scoreboard, they did manage to have two more scoring shots.
As hard as Giri was at the ball, a lot of admiration must go to the Saints Damien James.
He was easily the standout for his team on a day when many of the team's prime movers were disappointing.
Captain Jai Hardy waswell blanketed by Tom Campbell while wingman Alex Pearson who has been close to the Saints best player over the last month was held virtually kickless by Roos speedster Matt Eliott before he left the field injured.
The loss of drive from these key players really hurt the Saints, especially early.
The Saints brought the game back to level pegging as far as momentum was concerned when James and Mark Innes starting creating in the midfield, but by then the game was already over as the 28 point deficit at half time proved too large to make up.
NORTH COFFS 4.1 9.2 10.3 13.7 (85)
SAWTELL 2.2 4.4 7.11 9.13 (67)
Goals: N.Coffs ? J.Bencich (3), D.Funston (3), J.Henry (2), G.Jarman (2), J.Mayer (2), T.Merrick. Saw ? B.Guthrie (2), H.Schmidt (2), M.Couzens (2), L.Matthews, D.Rava, R.Zeegers.
Best: N.Coffs ? B.Giri, T.Campbell, J.Rankins, J.Becinch, D.Funston, M.Elliott, G.Connolly. Saw ? D.James, M.Bibby, D.Matthews, M.Innes, M.Couzens.
RESERVES: Port Macquarie 3.2 (20) d Woolgoolga 0.4 (4).
UNDER-18s: Nambucca Valley 10.10 (70) d Grafton 5.13 (43).