TIGER TIME: Tweed Tigers skippers Eleanor Crawley and Rachel Kelly will lead the yellow and black charge on Saturday when the side plays in its first grand final.
TIGER TIME: Tweed Tigers skippers Eleanor Crawley and Rachel Kelly will lead the yellow and black charge on Saturday when the side plays in its first grand final. Richard Mamando

The fighting fury is ready to roar

THE Tweed Coast Tigers are aiming to cap a remarkable rise with a grand final win over arch-rival Lismore in tomorrow's AFL Northern Rivers Women's grand final.

Last season was the first year of women's competition in the Northern Rivers region.

 

BOMBERS DOWNED: Tweed Coast Tigers took care of Ballina Bombers on the weekend.
ON THE MARCH: The Tweed Coast Tigers have the Lismore Swans in their sights.

Riding the wave of support for the women's game through the popularity of AFLW, the Tigers cobbled a team together from a bunch of former soccer players, netballers, basketballers, touch players and others with a passion for footy.

Some of them had never kicked a footy before, and most had never copped the hits in the rough and tumble of a contact sport.

It's a patchwork that has worked to perfection.

 

The Tweed Tigers have built a fantastic atmosphere around the club, one in which the women's team has thrived.
TIGER TRIBE: The Tweed Coast Tigers, based in Pottsville, have built a fantastic club atmosphere - one in which the women's team has thrived.

From day one they played with the same physicality and mateship that has defined Tweed Coast Tigers footy since the club's earliest days on the field.

These Tigers proved to be fast learners and were soon holding their own in training drills with the Tigers' men.

And on the field, in just 18 months, the improvement has been exponential. Skills that were not long ago foreign are now honed. A playing structure that was once unclear now has a game-plan, team tactics and defined individual roles.

 

Tweed Tigers skippers Eleanor Cawley and Rachel Kelly.
TOP TIGERS: The Tweed Tigers are blessed with skippers Eleanor Crawley and Rachel Kelly. Richard Mamando

The team has inspirational skippers in Eleanor Crawley and Rachel Kelly, cult figures like Blossom Grimshaw, and the competition's golden boot.

That golden boot belongs to Eleanor Crawley, who has kicked more than double the goals of anyone else in the competition.

"Inspirational" is an inadequate way to describe Crawley's effect on the Tigers around her.

It's not only her influence on games, authority in the forward line and prowess around goal; her will to push on through an acute hand injury, and play in a grand final with her mates, is leadership personified.

But, as coach Shane Art quipped, one hand is all she needs.

 

SORE BUT STILL SMILING: Tweed Coast Tiger Ellie Pritchard enjoying a well-earned post match beverage.
TIGER TOUGH: Tweed Coast Tiger Ellie Pritchard, sore but still smiling, is back in the fold for a post-match beverage after a heavy knock.

The Tigers went within a whisker of a grand final berth in their debut season last year and only missed out due to a contentious Lismore goal right on the final siren in the preliminary final.

But this year, it was the Tigers' turn to win in a preliminary final heart-stopper, this time in extra-time against Ballina.

Now, the Tigers will march into Saturday's big dance evolved, brimming with confidence, and with a travelling army of yellow and black right behind them.

 

Tweed Coast Tigers women's coach Katie Patison celebrates her team's first win of their debut season. Past and present players will come together for a club day at Sea Breeze Sportsfield on Saturday, August 19, 2017
STRONG AND BOLD: Join the yellow and black army down in Byron Bay on Saturday to see the Tigers take on Lismore at 12.25pm. contributed

Grand Final

Who: Tweed v Lismore

When: Saturday, 12.25pm

Where: Cavanbah Centre, Byron Bay