Halfback to miss semis with broken collarbone
By GREG WHITE
COFFS Rugby wrapped up the 2006 Mid North Coast zone minor premiership with a 19-8 win over Forster at Harry Elliot Oval, Tuncurry, on Saturday but the competition points came at a major price.
Halfback Damien Punch will miss the semi-finals after breaking his collarbone sending coach Paul Butcher on a last-minute mission to find a replacement.
"Almost certainly we'll bring up Wayne Dean," the coach said.
"Deany's been going well at five-eighth in second grade and I've used him at half before, so we won't lose anything in experience."
It's the fourth time Punch has been forced out by a major shoulder injury during his short career and Butcher said this break has also damaged his social life.
"He was booked on a surfing trip to Bali and was supposed to leave day after the grand final," he laughed.
"I don't know what he's dirtier about, missing football or missing the surf.
"Whichever way you look at it we feel really sorry for him."
Forster gave Coffs a torrid time before the edge in class and experience got the visitors across the line.
"If the Dolphins could put that side on the field every week, especially when they go on the road, they'd be a major force in the competition," Butcher said.
"We dropped a lot of ball and the other blokes were quick to seize on every chance to come back at us.
"But it's all good and we'll be at our peak for the Rangers."
Some of the Coffs players also appeared to be suffering the after-affects of Friday night celebrations.
"A few played like they were still in party mode and ran out of puff towards the end," the coach said tongue-in-cheek.
"I'll take pity this week but not in seven days."
Coffs took four sides to the Great Lakes and came home boasting a perfect record with one outstanding achievement illustrating the strength and future prospects of the club.
"The under-16's made the trip and had a big win," Butcher noted.
"A lot of talent in that side and they'll keep us strong for years when they filter through to open grade."
Coffs will host the major semi-finals at Rugby Park next Saturday with Verge Street Stadium, West Kempsey, the venue one day later for the sudden death preliminary.
Kempsey Cannonballs will the one of the combatants with their opponents still to be determined.
Saturday's scheduled clash between Hastings Valley and Old Bar fell victim to the weather and as the winner would have been elevated to the play-offs, the zone is still to give a ruling as to an outcome.
COFFS RUGBY 19 (Kris Flannigan, Angus Garland, Matt Kent tries; Garland 2 conversions) def FORSTER DOLPHINS 8 (no scorers available).
Second Grade: Coffs Rugby 46 d Forster 0.
Under 18's: Coffs Rugby 29 d Forster 0.