Forwards hold key
By GREG WHITE
ONE coach will count on forward power while his rival will go for a backline edge to win today's Mid North Coast Zone rugby major semi final at Rugby Park. "I know we can dominate the lineouts and hold them in the scrums but it will be our rolling maul that will come in handy," Coffs Rugby coach Paul Butcher believes. But with today's opponent Dorrigo already boasting the only defeat of the Coffs juggernaut this season, Rangers boss Rod Beaumont is determined to stick with tried and tested tactics. "Yes, matching Coffs in the forwards is mandatory," Beaumont agreed, "but shifting the ball wide and using the punch our big centres give us should get us over the line. "The last thing Coffs want to see is 'Big Dog' (Paul Sheather) coming off Ian Boutell close to their line but they'd better get used to it. "They may see a lot of it today." Both teams have suffered hiccups in the last fortnight. Coffs have been forced to substitute Wayne Dean at half after Damian Punch broke his collar-bone aginst Forster while Dorrigo lost valuable match practice last Saturday when the Pirates delivered a last minute forfeit. "We still have some medicals worries and a couple of replacements are on standby but we've beaten these blokes once and there's plenty of confidence we can do it a second time," Beaumont said. He added: "A third time in a fortnight also, if it comes to that." Coffs have a formidable home track record conceding just 15 points all season while scoring almost 400. "With only six of last year's premier side remaining we've done pretty well," Butcher stressed. "Having the likes of Hoy, Simpson, Barrett, Chubb and Ferguson who have all played high level rep footy along with the other guys who've repped, played in Sydney or in final series', there'll be no nerves when we take the field." Butcher maintains he has the key to success, irrespective of how much an advantage Dorrigo believe their backline give them. "We need to limit the number of lineouts the Rangers have as they are very good at getting easy yards from that. "If we can get our backs some clean ball, Kev Simpson can run and set up players anywhere to head for that tryline." n Shut down Peter Besseling and you shut down the Pirates. That's the top tactic from Coffs second grade coach Matt Quirk for today's major semi final against Port Macquarie. "All Port's lineouts and set plays revolve around the former Waratah and we must nullify his impact on the game," he said. Coffs will field their strongest side of 2006 with most having top grade experience but they'll need all hands on deck to win this one. The Pirates have handed out rugby lessons at every outing and are hot favourites for the premiership. "We must be particularly sharp in the lineouts where the Pirates have dominated," Quirk said. "Quick ball from the forwards means clean ball to the backs. "Spread it wide to the fast guys and take the advantage." Coffs under-18's find themselves in the major semi against South West Rocks after looking like they may not have the numbers before the season began. Under coaches Terry Rayner and Brendan Hoy the team has blossomed with an ample sprinkling of under 16's from Coffs Crusaders introduced to the squad. "We beat the Gaolers 15-7 three weeks ago," Hoy said, "but there isn't much between us. "Coffs have an excellent scrum and lineout and we aim to dominate up front."