AFL comp leaders face tough road tests
THE resurgent Grafton Tigers will look to maintain their perfect start when they make the long trip to Port Macquarie to take on the rebuilding Magpies on Saturday.
Grafton are on a roll after consecutive wins which have set the tone for the remainder of the season.
Amid the optimism and enthusiasm, the playing group has set lofty goals for 2020 and are working hard to ensure they don't fall short.
The team will have a slightly different look to it this week, with several senior players expected to be rested and not be on the bus heading south.
However, winning form is drawing players out of the woodwork and the Tigers will be disappointed to leave Port Macquarie with anything less than a win.
The Magpies put on a strong performance in round one considering the almost complete overhaul the playing roster has experienced since appearing in the 2019 grand final.
The Magpies need to gain experience playing together so that combinations can further develop, so the round two bye won't have done them any favours. Nor will the wet weather that saw Tuesday night's training session cancelled.
The long away trip is never easy, but the Tigers seem to have drawn the Magpies at the best possible moment. However, Port are never easily beaten on their home patch, and will be keen to turn Wayne Richards Park into a fortress, starting with a win on Saturday.
Reigning premiers Coffs Harbour Breakers and Northern Beaches Blues both continue to chase maiden wins but will need to wait another week as they sit out with a bye.
In the women's match, Northern Beaches Blues are at home to Coffs Harbour Breakers while Sawtell Toormina Saints have a bye.
The Blues suffered a narrow loss in round one where the team cohesion built the longer the match went.
With a significant number of players who are new to the code, both individual and team performance will improve dramatically with each match played, and the Blues will be geared up to measure themselves against one of the competition front runners.
The Breakers were ultra impressive in their victory over the Saints last week. This week's test will be to see if the approach that worked so well in the wet is as effective on a dry track. There's no question that ball handling will be easier and the Breakers will look to win plenty of contested ball to set the tone on the day.
A victory for the Breakers would set them as early season flag favourites, while a win for the Blues would have all teams in the competition sitting at one win apiece.