Grey clouds have silver lining
By BRAD GREENSHIELDS
NAMBUCCA HEADS 24 d COFFS HARBOUR 12
ROOSTERS captain-coach Geoff Batten admitted after yesterday's 24-12 victory over Coffs Harbour that he took to the field expecting the worst.
In the week leading up to yesterday's clash, Nambucca Heads had lost two players who were vital to Batten's plans for the season through nothing more than a change of footballing heart.
To compound Batten's problems, another player was lost through injury only hours before kick-off.
At the end of the day, the captain-coach should have had more faith in his players.
What remained in the Roosters line-up were the players who are willing have a dip each week, work hard for their mates and dig deep when times are tough.
"I said at half time that our skill or ability or patterns weren't going to win the game for us, it was going to be guts," a proud Roosters coach said.
"We've had a pretty rough week so this has topped it right off."
In a match that was played in slippery conditions, the real highlight of the day wasn't provided by any of the combatants but rather the heavens.
Only 14 minutes into the contest, lightning and thunder was clapping all around Advocate Park but when both arrived simultaneously practically on top of the ground, 26 players ducked for cover and Faren Nelson had no choice but to send both teams to the sheds for 15 minutes to wait for the worst of the storm to pass.
At that point the Roosters were already leading 14-0. Even though there was still more than an hour of football left and Coffs were supposed to be fitter, the inclement weather led to the question of whether the early points would provide too big a deficit for the Comets to claw back.
Judging by the final scoreboard the answer would appear to be 'yes' but late in the match, Coffs Harbour had a chance to use a 'get out of jail free' card.
Trouble was countless opportunities were squandered by Coffs Harbour as they continually coughed up the ball.
"We treat the ball too easily, not enough respect," Comets captain-coach Aaron Dyett said, still fuming at the chances that went begging.
"If we drop the ball at training it's all right, we get another set, we've got to learn to respect it more."
Dyett led from the front all day and in such tough conditions won the admiration of most by playing as the prop for the full 80 minutes.
But the leadership from the experienced Roosters players shone through, particularly in the final 15 minutes when they were walking up and down on the one spot with their defensive line under siege.
Tristan Hamilton-Giggins kept urging his mates along and Geoff Batten always looked dangerous when Nambucca did manage to get the ball in their hands.
Both before and after the match, Coffs Harbour will say that this was a game that they should've won.
Trouble is that it is digging deep for your mates and completing sets that wins games of football - not millionaire passes or chip kicks early in tackle counts that are only a small chance of turning into gold.