Tigers turn it up as Breakers, Saints search for finals form
THE last of the home and away rounds beckons as all teams jostle to best position themselves for what lies ahead.
The match between Grafton Tigers and Coffs Harbour Breakers is a classic encounter of first plays second.
The Tigers have already sewn up a place in the grand final on October 10 after clinching the minor premiership last weekend, so don’t have anything riding on this match.
However, early qualification for the season decider means a week off, while their potential opponents are slogging it out in a semi-final so the match against Breakers is the Tigers last hit out before the grand final.
This will guarantee that the team in yellow and black are primed for a big effort so that they take winning form into the biggest match of the year.
Breakers on the other hand have plenty on the line. Currently sitting in second spot means that a win on Saturday would guarantee them the chance to host the semi-finals and all the advantages that go with that.
However, anything less than a win and that chance probably heads across town to their fiercest rival.
Breakers have led in both of the matches between these teams this season but haven’t been able to match Grafton’s trademark big final term. If Breakers are to secure what would be an upset they need to compete for all four quarters.
In Port Macquarie, the hometown Magpies are playing what will be their last match of the season against Sawtell Toormina Saints, who are gunning for second.
Port’s season has been characterised by disappointment. Last year’s grand finalists were looking to build on the successes of 2019 and go one better this season.
Instead, they’ve fallen out of the race for finals and will be watching on as the remaining teams battle it out.
The Magpies will be keen to finish the season on a high and lay a platform for improved performances next season.
Recruitment is already underway and the club is confident of once again fielding a reserve grade team that is so important in providing the depth to ensure a successful push in the seniors.
Sawtell will be working on the assumption that Grafton will beat Breakers and open the door for them to leap back into second spot. They have been the best team in the competition other than the Tigers and but have had a lean in the recent times and are coming off back to back losses.
With one week to go until a semi-final, a win over Port is much more important in the context of taking form into a big match than it is about ladder position.
In the women’s match of the round Coffs Harbour take on the Northern Beaches Blues in the unfamiliar surrounds of Ellem Oval, Grafton.
The Breakers focus will be on extending their unbeaten run throughout the home and away rounds.
While that would be an amazing achievement in its own right, the priority in winning will be knowing that the team has a guaranteed spot in the grand final and will want to head into the big match with winning form.
Equally as important for Breakers will be ensuring that they come through the match unscathed and don’t collect any injuries that might rule players out of a grand final in two weeks’ time.
Breakers can’t afford to take this match easy as the gap between them and the Blues is closing with every meeting. Last time out, Northern Beaches closed to within just five points at the last break before Breakers pulled away in the last term.
The Blues will know that a consistent four quarter effort will put them in with a chance of recording their biggest victory in their short history.