Nail-biting finish as Coffs Breakers make local AFL history
IN AN edge-of-the-seat finish, Coffs Breakers made history with a two point win over Sawtell-Toormina at Fitzroy Oval.
The classic encounter was the new club's first ever win over the multiple premiers with many in the large crowd describing it as the best game seen in AFL North Coast in several years.
Highlighted by lead changes, uncompromising play and strong marking displays, the match was played at a furious pace from the get go.
Breakers started stronger but weren't able to take full scoreboard advantage with two late goals to the Saints leaving them one point in arrears at the quarter break.
More clinical in the second quarter, the home side kicked five goals to two with Kieren Bellemore taking the spotlight with two set shot goals from 50m to give them an 11 point lead at the long break.
Sawtell-Toormina responded in the third quarter and showed why they are the reigning premiers.
They dominated possession, inside 50's and scoring.
Breakers were held to just one behind for much of the quarter but two goals deep into that session left the visitors with a slender four point buffer going into the last quarter.
It turned into a prize fight.
The hot start and a tough, physical contest took its toll as players limped on and off the field.
Incredibly, Saints opened up a 13 point lead late in the quarter and the match looked headed their way as Breakers struggled to find 18 fit players.
However, the eventual winners managed to find something extra and goals to Pat Curtain and Fraser Duryea saw scores locked with only a couple of minutes left on the clock.
Two behinds in the dying stages was enough to secure a place in history with the first ever victory over Sawtell-Toormina.
The winners were led well by Fraser Duryea, Kieren Bellemore and Nathan Johnson, with Pat Curtain's four goals proving vital.
For Saints, Leif Stuart and Luke Matthews never stopped trying, while Jim Angel was the only multiple goal scorer with two majors.
AFL North Coast football operations manager Paul Taylor said the match was a great reflection on the code.
"This was a classic encounter between two teams that were hungry," he said.
"The brand of footy played was hard and physical but also marked by really skilful displays across the park.
"When you factor in that Port Macquarie is undefeated so far and also playing good footy we're well placed for a really exciting season."
In the southern game the Magpies recorded an emphatic victory over battling Grafton.
Tigers made the long trip travelling light with a number of key players unavailable due to work commitments and injury and had the misfortune to run into a side only growing in strength.
Jesse Schmidt kicked six and Luke Twynstra put his name to four with a further six players bagging multiples in a double century demolition.
Coffs Harbour Breakers (11.11) 77 bt Sawtell-Toormina Saints (10.15) 75
Port Macquarie Magpies (31.19) 205 bt Grafton Tigers (0.1) 1
Coffs Harbour v Port Macquarie
Grafton v Sawtell-Toormina