Coffs work hard for win
By PAUL CHAMBERS Coffs Harbour 28
Hastings Vikings 5
AT LAST, a real contest.
A good, physical battle which saw Coffs tested and stretched in defence and actually concede some points.
Okay, so the score line still shows Coffs won by 23 points.
This is a comfortable winning margin, but the result was far from comfortable.
For once Coffs were made to really work hard for their win, both physically and mentally.
In virtually every game this season Coffs have been able to dictate everything that happened in pretty much every aspect of play due to a huge dominance of possession and field position, almost going through the motions to win their games.
This game was different mainly because they were put under real pressure for the first time, both in attack and defence.
Mentally they had to be tough, had to show a different side to their game by working out a plan of attack to counter the stiff resistance they were facing and not just scoring off every attack as in previous games.
They had to soak up pressure, counter punch and counter attack wherever necessary and capitalize on the fewer opportunities they created for themselves.
They did this very capably, which shows even more depth to their game than some of their opponents thought they possessed.
To win games in such weather conditions, when the ground is wet, muddy, sticky and heavy, it is crucial that you win as much first phase ball as you can from your set pieces so you can get yourself on the front foot and then scavenge like crazy when the opposition has the ball to disrupt and spoil as much as possible.
Coffs did this to perfection.
Their set pieces, especially their lineouts, were impressive and provided them with enough ball to unleash their lethal backline going forward, and their back row of Hine, Webb and Gooley foraged, fought and hunted for the ball all day and stopped the Vikings from creating any real attacking phases they craved.
This allowed the backs to do the rest.
The mixture of youthful exhuberance and experienced assurance really provides Coffs with a great blend in the backs, a blend which allows them to attack with speed when necessary and to keep it tight and safe if the situation calls.
Coach Paul Butcher was a happy man after the game.
"It was a really good game today, and the boys actually surprised me with the way they played," he said.
"Considering we were missing a few of our key players today everybody across the paddock performed well, especially Webb and Hine."
Butcher was also quick to point out how this sets up his team in other ways.
"It is great that our backs can run it around from anywhere, which gives the whole team confidence throwing the ball around," he raved.
"But the real bonus of these wins is that we are trying out players to test them out at this level and we now have a strong pool of about 30 players who we now know can handle it, which is great for our strength in depth."
COFFS HARBOUR 28 (Paul Gooley 2, Aaron Miller 2 tries; Angus Garland 1 con. 2 pens.) d HASTING VIKINGS 5 (Paul Chaplin try.).