Midfield rock Griffiths key to Magic’s form revival

Jon Griffiths has been a tower of strength in the Broadmeadow midfield. Picture: Peter StoopPLENTY is made of Broadmeadow’s multitude of strike weapons, but co-coach Rob Virgili believes it has been the return of defender-turned-midfielder Jon Griffiths which has made all the difference in Magic’s revival this season.
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Early competition leaders Magic scraped into fourth place after recovering from a mid-season slump and head into the second leg of their Northern NSW NPL semi-final against minor premiers Edgeworth on Saturday at Jack McLaughlan Oval on level terms at 3-3.

Competition golden boot Kale Bradbery scored two goals and earned a penalty that Peter Haynes converted last week to keep Magic’s hopes of a fourth major title in five seasons alive.

Before the draw, Magic conceded just two goals in three wins to finish the regular season and pip Weston for fourth place.

Virgili believes the return of Griffiths as a holding midfielder, a role Alex Kantarovski was to play before his season-ending knee injury, has been the key to Magic’s turnaround.

‘‘Since Jonny Grif’s been back we’ve noticed a big difference,’’ Virgili said.

‘‘He’s had a bit of an in-and-out season with injury and suspension.

‘‘He couldn’t take a trick, but since he’s been back he’s been winning man-of-the-match awards and doing that job for us in the midfield.

‘‘He’s been super. He breaks down a lot of play and rarely loses the ball.’’

Griffiths, 24, injured his ankle in a trial game against Maitland and missed the first seven weeks. He then copped a suspension when he returned, restricting him to just 10 first-grade appearances, but he has found form at the right time for Magic and earned two players’ player awards in the closing rounds.

A member of Magic’s hat-trick of grand final wins from 2011-13, Griffiths believes the squad can repeat their premiership-winning feats.

‘‘We’ve stuck in there lately and ground out some results,’’ Griffiths said.

‘‘All the boys have been keen at training and there’s definitely a feeling in the team we can get across the line. We’ve just got to get a result this weekend against Edgy, which I’m sure we can.

‘‘All the boys are up for it, and being down 3-1 last week and coming back to 3-all, there’s definitely a bit of momentum there and confidence.’’

Scott Pettit (illness) and Daniel Casciaroli (wedding) return to Magic’s squad on Saturday, but Chris Berlin is out for the season with rib cartilage damage.

HAMILTON Olympic volunteers were pleased to see the sun come out as they prepare to host the deferred first leg of under-19 and under-22 semi-finals on Wednesday night.

Olympic were set to play Emerging Jets under 18s in under 22s and Magic in under19s on Sunday, but rain prompted officials to postpone the matches at Darling Street Oval in an attempt to ensure first grade went ahead.

Hamilton won first grade 2-1 over Lambton Jaffas, but not before a huge effort, including the use of foam rubber, from people at all levels of the club to help dry the pitch.

Synthetic surfaces at Northern NSW Football headquarters at Speers Point were on standby for the deferred matches, which will go ahead at Darling Street Oval from 6pm (under 19s) and 7.30pm (under 22s) on Wednesday.

■ Football Mid North Coast’s under-13 boys’ side were the most impressive winners as major premierships were shared around in the Northern NSW National Premier League youth and Herald Women’s Premier League junior deciders on Sunday.

FMNC beat Edgeworth 4-0 with goals from Max Lynch, Adam Sherratt, Vaughan Lickley and Josh Gardner.

The NPL youth grand finals were held at Jack McLaughlan Oval at Edgeworth, while the girls’ deciders were at Magic Park in Broadmeadow.

Zac Bailey and Kent Harrison scored for the Emerging Jets under 15s in their win over Broadmeadow Magic in the 17 years boys’ grand final.

Charlestown City Blues beat Weston Bears 5-4 in a penalty shootout after a scoreless draw in the 15 years decider.

Magic won the 14 years title with a 1-0 win over Adamstown thanks to a second-half strike from Andrew Benbow.

In the girls’ grand finals, Valentine beat Football Mid North Coast 1-0 in the 18 years match with a goal from Carson McGovern. Adamstown beat South Wallsend 4-2 in the 16 years decider, and Thornton edged FMNC 5-4 from the spot.

NPL SEMI-FINAL SECOND LEGS

SATURDAY, JACK McLAUGHLAN OVAL

1ST GRADE (3pm)

Edgeworth (1) v Magic (4) (3-3 after first leg)

UNDER 22s (1pm)

Edgeworth (1) v Magic (4) (Edgeworth lead 3-0)

UNDER 19s (11am)

Weston (1) v Edgeworth (4) (Edgeworth lead 1-0)

SUNDAY, EDDEN OVAL

1ST GRADE (3pm)

Jaffas (2) v Olympic (3) (Olympic lead 2-1)

UNDER 22s (1pm)

Emerging Jets U18s (2) v Olympic (3) (First leg Wednesday night)

UNDER 19s (11am)

Magic (2) v Olympic (3) (First leg Wednesday night)