Tigers punish Pies
KICKING five goals to one into the breeze during the first quarter paved the way for Grafton to reach their first AFL North Coast grand final.
For so many years Grafton have been the whipping boys of the competition, but now the Tigers are only one win away from claiming premiership glory.
From the start of Saturday’s clash against Port Macquarie, Grafton outmuscled, out-enthused and outran the opposition, going on to win 15.9 (99) to 10.6 (66).
Ahead by 26 points at the first break, the Tigers extended their lead in each quarter and led by a mammoth 45 points early in the final term.
With the match well and truly over as a contest, the Tigers backed off and Port Macquarie hit back with three late goals.
Despite winning the lion’s share of the hit-outs through the work of ruckman Dean Nakivell, Port Macquarie were unable to win the ball out of the centre.
Instead it was the Grafton pair of Sam Morrison and Ronald Davis who won the vital clearances.
While the Tigers dominated the centre clearances, Josh Sheather was the surprise packet in the forward line.
Grafton’s ‘fab four’ of Evan Duryea, Shawn Purton, Dale Beaver and captain Daniel Zacek struggled to overcome the greasy conditions and were not as successful in front of goals as they have been previously this season.
Instead, it was Sheather who led the way with three goals as he regularly shook off his opponent.
Matt Newton collected five goals for the vanquished Magpies.
Despite the loss, Port Macquarie have a second chance to reach a seventh grand final in 12 years when they play Nambucca Valley in the preliminary final this Saturday.
Club general manager Craig Carroll said that the Magpies need to play a lot better if they were to have any hope of making it into the season decider.
“Our work ethic was poorer than usual and we need to get a lot more bodies to the contest and particularly at the fall of the ball against Nambucca,” he said.
5.2 10.3 13.5 15.9 (99)
1.0 5.0 7.4 10.6 (66)
Goals - Grafton: J Sheather 3, E Duryea 2, S Morrison 2, D Beaver 2, J Darby, S Purton, A Lollback, D Zacek, L Hayman, J Meade. Port: M Newton 5, C Miechel, M. Lill, J Schmidt, J Hall, D Munt.
Best - Grafton: S Morrison, D Beaver, R Davis, D Gordon, W Darby, J Meade. Port: C Miechel, S Skreja, J Schmidt, D Nankivell, G Chapman, J Hall.
Reserves: Port Macquarie 11.3 (69) def Sawtell 5.6 (36)
Under-18s: Port Macquarie 11.14 (80) def North Coffs 9.10 (64)
Seniors: Port Macquarie v Nambucca Valley
Reserves: Sawtell v North Coffs
Under-18s: North Coffs v Sawtell
at BCU International Stadium - Adults: $10.