PORT Macquarie Magpies will have to go the long way around if they are to make the AFL North Coast grand final in a fortnight's time.
The Magpies were thrashed by Sawtell Toormina Saints on Saturday at Coffs Harbour, 16.9 (105) to 5.6 (36).
The Saints booked their place in the decider with the win.
The Magpies started the match well, but the Saints ran away with the game after the first break.
It was an even first quarter, with the Saints leading by just three behinds, 16-13. It was 41-26 at the main break, then 60-35 at three quarter time.
The Saints piled on the pain in the last, booting 45 points to the Magpies' single behind.
The Pies just couldn't peg them back. Saints grew stronger as the match went on.
The Port team had some player setbacks on the day, but coach Damon Munt wasn't making excuses.
Riley Irwin split webbing in a hand in a lower grade match, and received six stitches.
Oscar Anderson was a late withdrawal through illness.
Matt Lill and Alf Ablett pulled out in the week.
"We were a little bit thin," Munt said. "I think we just ran out of legs."
Kyle Lynch kicked two goals for the Magpies.
Blake Nelson, Dylan Beasley and Jordan Lennon booted one each.
The team will face Coffs Breakers next weekend as their season is placed on the line.
The Magpies have beaten the Breakers twice this season and the Breakers have had one win.
Munt expects a tough day if the Breakers field their best team.
"If they're at full strength, they'll be right up there," he said. A couple of the Magpies' 18s contingent will be fresh and raring to boost the seniors team.
The 18s had a good win on Saturday, beating the Saints 9.13 (67) to 5.4 (34).
"They won't know what to do with themselves," Munt said.
"They might have to run around for an hour before the game."
Reserves will also be in action next week, after a loss on Saturday.
The Magpies went down 7.14 (56) to 6.3 (39), also to Saints.