Sport

AFL decider set to be a classic local derby

It's hard to find a clear favourite ahead of today's AFL North Coast grand final between Coffs Swans and Sawtell/Toormina. Photo: Rob Wright/Coffs Coast Advocate
It's hard to find a clear favourite ahead of today's AFL North Coast grand final between Coffs Swans and Sawtell/Toormina. Photo: Rob Wright/Coffs Coast Advocate Rob Wright

HAVE you got a coin?

It might be the best way to decide your tip for this afternoon's AFL North Coast grand final.

Recent history doesn't really offer up a good guide to help you decide.

Sawtell/Toormina and Coffs Swans have met on four occasions this season with the record standing at two wins apiece and now the two teams prepare to face off in the ultimate tie-breaker.

The two respective coaches are expecting a tight tussle with both agreeing the premiership trophy will simply go to the team who performs better on the day.

For Coffs Swans playing-coach Jay Guthrie, performing better comes down to one simple factor.

"I always tell the team to respect the opposition, and first and foremost, make sure you beat your opponent," Guthrie said.

"If you have 22 players that beat their opponents, you're going to win the game."

Fairly simple.

And judging from the Sawtell/Toormina attitude, simple is the way to go.

Doing the ordinary things extraordinarily well will be the focus for the Saints, a team about to embark on its ninth grand final in 10 years.

"We're not taking anything for granted," Sawtell/Toormina coach Jim Angel said.

"There's no next week after this. No more training sessions to run out sore spots or practice.

"We need to get it right on this one day."

This one day is something the Swans have been waiting a long time for.

The red and whites last played in a grand final back in 2006 and haven't lifted the premiership trophy since Tony Waterfall and Peter Morgan did so after winning in 1999.

Guthrie said becoming the team that could possibly break the drought has been a long process.

"To get there (the grand final) is half the battle," he said.

"To play consistent footy in the grand final is the aim and the premiership is the goal."

Not that the Saints aren't without a dash of added motivation.

In the past two grand finals, Sawtell/Toormina has led at the final break only to be overrun in the final quarter.

Angel said more recent history is driving his team.

"When the Swans beat us in the second semi we were trounced everywhere," he said.

"Our players know they didn't play at their best or stick to the game plan and the boys want a chance to show what we're really capable of."

In a contest which marks 20 years since the first AFL North Coast was played at the C.ex Coffs International Stadium, Guthrie said it won't be because of any outstanding individual efforts if the Swans win.

"We're not a team of individual stars, but we work together as a unit very well," he said.

"The biggest card we can play is if we play consistently as a team."

Angel said sticking to the game plan like the Saints did in last week's emphatic Preliminary Final win will see the Saints prevail in the premiership decider.

"It's more to do with how we play," he said.

"We've got a game plan and we can't stray from it."

So who will win?

It may be simply be a toss of the coin job in the first all-Coffs Harbour grand final since 2009.

GRAND FINAL TEAMS
COFFS SWANS
B: T Clayton, S McGrath, S Hardes
HB: M Pearce, J Goding, M Cannan
C: S Gleeson, J Carey, R Clayton
HF: A Gosling, F Duryea, L O'Halloran
F: N Von Schill, J Guthrie, J Brown
Foll: P Curtain, M Wilcox, T Snow
I/C (from): J Lyon, I Slapp, C McDaid, D Bear, M Jones, N Whittle, J Mapleson, S Burow
SAWTELL/TOORMINA
B: M Flynn, R Wooley, A Burkitt
HB: R Connor, N Johnson, E Schmitt
C: S Taylor, L Matthews, D Johnson
HF: J Ellis-Cluff, M Couzens, B Foote
F: G Faithfull, R Zappula, J Angel
Foll: A Clarke, S Matthews, L Benson
I/C (from): B Matthews, J Neaves, M Cole, T Baade, J Drage, M McHeyzer

EXPERT TIPS
Rod Macpherson Saints (5)
Rob McKelvie Swans (15)
Matt Crawley Swans (19)
Scott Abercrombie Swans (36)
Adi Campbell Saints (37)
Pete Gallagher Swans (12)
Darren Funston Saints (15)
Brad Greenshields Saints (1)
 

GRAND FINALS
At C.ex Coffs International Stadium
Seniors - 2.45pm: Coffs Swans v Sawtell/Toormina
Reserves - 12.50pm: Sawtell/Toormina v Port Macquarie
Under-18s - 10.45am: Port Macquarie v Sawtell/Toormina
Admission - $10 Adults, $5 Pensioners/Students

Topics:  afl north coast afl nsw/act australian rules c.ex coffs international stadium coffs swans grand final jim angel sawtell-toormina saints



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