Swans wings clipped
THE Lismore Swans were always going to struggle against the Warwick Redbacks in the final of the Call To Arms Cancer Council Aussie Rules pre-season competition yesterday afternoon.
Warwick dedicated the victory to former club president Colin Pope who was recently diagnosed with cancer and is about to undergo radiation therapy.
The younger and faster Redbacks produced a comprehensive performance in the final to finish 17-11 (115) to 6-3 (39) winners and complete the two-day carnival without loss.
"He (Pope) first organised this carnival four years ago and this is the first time we've won it," Redbacks player-coach Jason Wright said.
"It's very special to the club and I'm proud to be the coach that could finally win it for Col.
"We had a couple of blokes that had to go home last night for various functions and they all made it back today.
"AFL is growing in our town and we have a lot of rugby league and soccer converts coming over.
"We have a strong competition back home and about six of the nine teams in it can win."
Lismore player-president Phil Tsourlinis is also hoping for a bumper year with some new arrivals at the club.
The Swans won the Summerland grand final for the first time in 27 years against the Tweed Tigers last season.
"It's a bit of a double-edge sword because we have players that feel like finally we got it done and now they're ready to hang up the boots," Tsourlinis said.
"Others want to go back-to-back and we have about four new players that have come from rugby league and rugby union backgrounds.
"We have a Canadian (Kael Herman) that's never played Aussie Rules and he came out and learnt the game in two days and played phenomenal.
"That's the positives you can take out of two days of pre-season football, blokes like Kael get the most out of it.
"Warwick were running out of their backline and linking up with their midfielders and they did it well all day.
"We had to play an extra game to get to the final and just couldn't keep up for four quarters."
Tsourlinis named Herman, Andrew James, Scott Brown and Angus Lego as Lismore's best.
The day also helped raise funds for the Far North Coast Cancer Council.
"Good on the Warwick boys for going out there and playing well for their former president that's fallen ill with cancer," Tsourlinis said.
"They were pretty motivated and you can't do anything better than raising money for the Cancer Council.
"It's good to raise that awareness too and I look forward to seeing how much money we come up with."
The Swans also look forward to renewing their rivalry with the Tweed Tigers this season.
"Tweed are building as they always do and they'll get better as the season goes on," Tsourlinis said.
"Whether they're on the top or bottom of the ladder we always want to beat Tweed and that's the way it will always be."
The Swans' first game of the season will be against the Ballina Bombers at Oakes Oval, Lismore on April 14.