Port Magpies enter the record books as the first AFL North Coast cross conference winner.
Port Magpies enter the record books as the first AFL North Coast cross conference winner. Contributed

Port Magpies super win in first AFL cross conference fixtures

CROSS conference AFL made its debut in Grafton and Ballina on Saturday with two close matches and two score blow outs.

"It was a fantastic success," AFL North Coast operation coordinator Paul Taylor said.

"All eight clubs loved the concept and are eagerly looking forward to the next chance to test themselves which will come on May 21 at Round Mountain and Coffs Harbour."

Ellem Oval, Grafton

Play began with the home side up against the Lismore Swans.

Grafton Tigers saved their worst half of footy for the start of this match which saw the Swans open an unassailable lead.

Tigers improved markedly in the second half and matched it with their opponents for long periods but the Swans were cleaner with their possession and disposals and stretched the winning margin.

The hosts were well served by Chris Leslie, Ethan Olsen, and Blake Richards and will be better for the run.

Port Macquarie Magpies and Tweed Coast Tigers turned on a classic and the win will go down as one of the southern club's best wins ever.

Against the Northern Rivers reigning premiers, undermanned and sustaining injuries during the match, the Magpies showed enormous team spirit to record an against the odds victory.

They kicked five majors to nil in the first quarter and looked good but Tweed came back in the second and closed to within two goals.

The third quarter was an arm wrestle with Port responding every time Tweed closed the gap.

In the final quarter Tweed managed to get to within two goals and looked as if they would go on with it.

But the lion hearted Magpies ran out the stringer to record a six goal win.

When asked after the match to single out his best, proud Port coach Anthony Beasley gave credit to the team overall.

Fripp Oval, Ballina

COFFS Breakers match against Ballina Bombers proved to be the cliff hanger of the round with the strong breeze contributing to the result.

Breakers got away to a good start, kicking with the breeze to lead by 10 points at quarter time.

But the Bombers were able to wipe away the deficit to hold a three point lead at the main break.

The third quarter was close with Breakers unable to take full toll of the breeze at their backs.

However, by three quarter time they had taken back the lead by a single point.

This proved not enough as Ballina, kicking with the wind in the final quarter, registered two goals and seven behinds to Breakers solitary goal.

It's the second week in a row the Coffs team has been outscored in the final quarter and will be an aspect coach Nic Von Schill will work on at training.

In the final game, Sawtell-Toormina Saints took on Byron Bay Magpies under lights.

Both teams went through their regular seasons undefeated in 2015 and while Saints capped off the year in style, Magpies were beaten by a solitary point in their grand final.

This extra motivation made the Byron club ruthless against the Saints who were short a number of key players.

Byron came out of the blocks firing and held a 50 point lead by half time.

Sawtell-Toormina improved in the second half but the players were unable to make any real impression.

This was the club's first competitive loss in a long time and it will be interesting to see how Jim Angel and the boys react to this unfamiliar situation ahead of next week's grand final replay with Port Magpies.

Round two (cross conference)

Lismore Swans (20.22) 142 bt Grafton Tigers (3.8) 26

Port Macquarie Magpies (17.16) 118 bt Tweed Coast Tigers (11.14) 80

Ballina Bombers (9.16) 70 bt Coffs Harbour Breakers (9.4) 58

Byron Bay Magpies (16.16) 112 bt Sawtell-Toormina Saints (2.2) 14

Round three (Saturday)

Sawtell-Toormina v Port Macquarie

(2.20pm Richardson Park)

Grafton v Coffs Breakers

(5pm Ellem Oval)

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