Battle of old play mates
By DAVID MOASE
IF spectators at tomorrow's clash of longstand-ing rivals Coffs Harbour and Orara Valley at Advocate Park get the feeling the teams know each other's moves inside out, they may not be too far off the mark.
Off-season player moves saw a path worn between the Comets and the Axemen as a number of players switched clubs.
Orara benefited by gaining the likes of Tyler Corfe, Alan Jones, Grant Vincent and Matt Bye from the Comets, while influential halfback Shaun Hart made the move in the opposite direction.
As a result, there will be plenty of inside knowledge in both camps.
The off-season moves, and any lasting resentment they may have caused will add an extra touch of spice to the traditionally fiery clash for the Ken Orr Shield.
Veteran Comets' forward Brenden Pellegrino said yesterday that while many would see the encounter as a grudge match, the competition points would go to the team that kept its mind on playing disciplined rugby league.
"I think the grudge match idea is more for the spectators than the players," he said.
"The extra feeling might last for 15 minutes, and the young blokes might get carried away, but after that you have to concentrate on playing good footy.
"Some of these guys have been playing against each other since they were at school so it is not that much of a special occasion."
The Comets will be looking to make use of their homeground advantage to bounce back from last week's surprise 26-16 loss to Bellinger Valley Magpies.
"That is a game we will probably rue dropping later in the year," Pellegrino said.
"We need to bounce back this week. We are aiming to win all of our home games this year, if you do that you will go close to making the semi-finals."
Orara Valley will be hoping for a continuation of their blistering start to the season, which has seen them average more than 50 points a game in winning their first four matches.
Their attacking wea-pons were blunted a little last week but they still did enough to defeat Sawtell 24-14.
Captain-coach Brad Hart has nominated it as the club's best start to a season since they made the grand final in 2003 and they boast strength in depth.
"They have unbelievable talent in their backline and even if you do nothing wrong they can still put 30 points on you," Pellegrino said.
"We have to concentrate on limiting our mistakes and getting in their face a bit if we are going to be in with a good chance of winning."
In other Group 2 matches this weekend, Sawtell will be looking to rack up a big score at home to bottom-placed Macleay Valley, Nambucca Heads host Woolgoolga in what should be a close match, Bellinger Valley will be hoping for another win when they visit Gimbisi Valley, and powerhouse teams Port Macquarie and Macksville meet at Port.