CPL round 3 preview

If you can draw a positive from Kempsey Saints’ false start to the Coastal Premier League in 2021, their first game of the season will now be at home.

Saints had to cool their heels last weekend when their derby clash with Macleay Valley had to be rescheduled due to torrential rain.

It meant the focus for coach Evan Clarke over the past seven days has been one on fitness as they prepare to play an opponent who has very similar DNA to themselves.

Sawtell and Saints both possess youthful squads who will run all day, but the Scorpions have the added bonus of 90 extra minutes in the legs even if it did result in a 3-0 defeat to Boambee.

“Sawtell have that extra game so it’s definitely an advantage for them to get those first-game jitters out of the way, but our preparation has still been good,” Clarke said.

“All the boys are chomping at the bit to get a game in. They put in a big fitness session on Tuesday night.”

Clarke expected the game to be played up-tempo and his side were well equipped to play that way.

“It’s a natural tendency from our boys to play that sort of way, so I wouldn’t say the way Sawtell play plays into our hands, but we’re happy to play that way,” he said.

“That style of game is something we’re familiar with and we’re comfortable.”

Sawtell coach Joe Skrtic was satisfied with the way his side played in the opening round, but they need to defend better when the ball is in transition.

“We were caught out last week so that’s something we’ve worked on at training and hopefully we can rectify it for the game at the weekend,” he said.

“Kempsey has a young side, we’ve got a young side and it’s going to be a good matchup. We’re looking forward to it.”

Skrtic said his side played good football in the opening round and was confident they would continue to progress.

“We’re going to be a lot quicker with our passes and decision-making as the season goes on. The boys are going to pick it up fairly quickly,” he said.

In other matches, Port Saints will look to make it two wins from two starts when they host Port United in the Port Macquarie derby.

Boambee return to Ayrshire Park where they clash with Coffs Coast Tigers while Macleay Valley Rangers open their CPL season with a daunting trip to Coffs City United at McLean Street.

Taree Wildcats are back at Omaru Park where they will look to improve on last week’s disappointing loss to Port Saints when they host Northern Storm.

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