North Coffs players Josh Drum and Matthew Crispe vie for the ball with Coffs Swans player Nick Butcher during the AFL clash at
North Coffs players Josh Drum and Matthew Crispe vie for the ball with Coffs Swans player Nick Butcher during the AFL clash at

Swans in thriller

By CHRIS McKINLEY

AFTER playing well below their best for three quarters, Coffs Swans playing coach Jeff Reed admits that the last quarter heroics his team showed to snatch victory over North Coffs proved to be the great escape.

"Let's just say that I think the better team on the day didn't win," he said.

"Considering our attitude and ill discipline for most of the game from a lot of the players, we were lucky to get that win."

Trailing by 20 points at the final break, Reed virtually threw the magnets in the air to make wholesale changes to the line-up to try and create some spark that could bring his team back into the contest.

When 'Roos key forward Jordan Rendell goaled early in the last to extend the lead to 26 points, it seemed that it was a case of all over red rover.

That's when the fightback started.

Gaining some ascendancy in the midfield from the move of Peter Chadwick to the ruck, the Swans started peppering the goals to gradually claw back the margin.

With five mintes to go, the Swans hit the front for the first time all day courtesy of a goal from Jason Thomas.

The fifth consecutive goal for the now resurgent red and whites made the difference 12 points and the game was safely in the Swans keeping.

North Coffs playing coach Darren Funston was a bitterly disappointed man at the end of the contest as he was left to rue an opportunity lost.

"For three quarters we did exactly what was needed to win finals," he said.

"We ran the legs off them today and we were getting the results but then in the last term we stopped taking risks and a lot of us went in our shells.

"We tried to close up the game to protect the lead when it was open football that ot us the lead in the first place."

Captain Josh Drum was outstanding for North Coffs as he constantly drove the ball from the midfield to feed John Henry who kicked five goals.

Courtesy of the victory, the Swans are now still within striking distance of a double chance position with only two rounds left of the home and away season.

Whoever finishes third will be concerned about playing the 'Roos in the knockout 1st semi final based on Saturday's performance.

n ONLY a major catastrophe of biblical proportions will see Port Macquarie fall outside the top two on the ladder before the finals start in three weeks time.

Giving up a home game to take on Grafton in neutral territory to avoid excessive travel between the two clubs, the Magpies virtually did as they pleased after an even start to run away impressive 112 point victors.

Gaining control of the midfield through the classy Daniel Butterfield, Port began to gradually draw away and it was a nine goal to nil third term that put the result beyond doubt.

Up forward John Bain and Jesse Schmidt were waxing the ball and both had a day out finishing with eight each but they still couldn't get the reward of best afield honours.

Butterfield was clearly best on the paddock as he amassed more than 35 possessions for the day.

Grafton weren't without hope but every time perennial solid performers Mark Blundell and Scott Onus pushed the ball forward, the brick wall that is Clayton Miechel repelled their efforts.

Port's captain-coach Matt Newton was happy with the performance despite the slow start to get out of the blocks.



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