Nambucca checkmate Comets
By GREG WHITE
HAD either of the sides engaged in battle for two points at Advocate Park, yesterday, stuck religiously to the game plan, that side would have won easily.
Instead, Coffs Harbour and Nambucca Heads became distracted, turning the match into a lottery, with the winning numbers coming up 38-34 in favour of the Roosters.
When Nambucca ran the ball through quick hands to the edges, they had the Comets in awful bother.
But once they grew tired of scoring from those tactics, they relaxed the muscles, allowing their rivals to smash their way through the centre of the ruck to the tryline.
Then it was Coffs' turn to slacken off and the whole process began anew.
To use the chess terminology, check was countered by check, before the Roosters declared checkmate with the final two tries of the game.
"We took too long to flick the turn on switch," was how Coffs coach Scott Mieni described the result that finally ended the club's premiership campaign.
With the Heads forfeiting reserve grade, the Coffs players were again fated to stand around waiting for something to happen and it was far from the preparation Mieni desired.
With play underway, it wasn't until Bert Gray took the field that the Comets found some rhythm.
"When Bert calls your name, you tend to listen," Mieni said.
"Unfortunately, even he wasn't able to keep them focused and our attention wandered off at key stages."
Despite a winning afternoon, the Roosters won't make the semis, yet coach Mark Morrison is thrilled at how far his charges have come and the way they are ending the season.
"A win is a win, no matter how rough and ready the execution," he said.
"This is my second last game with the club and we've all come a long way in three years."
Actually, when Morrison took over that spare parts team, most of them were flat out playing the ball correctly.
"Eleven players who took part in that first losing side were in this winning side today," he said proudly.
"To get over the line you first have to set up the opposing defence to your best advantage."
"We did that today, scored the tries and won the game.
At times, Nambucca's exhibition of the 'catch and pass' facet of the game was totally thrilling, compensating for their brittleness in the defensive centre.
It was here the Comets made inroads.
"Hitting them there got results," said Mieni,"but dropping off cost us in the end.
With one game to go, neither coach is ready to go public just yet, with his intentions for next season.
Should he want the job, Mieni will be an almost certain starter for a third straight season at Advocate Park.
As for Morrison, who's come from nowhere to be something of a coaching guru, he fancies something "a little closer to home" in Kempsey.
Whatever eventuates, the friendly rivals have a common goal next Sunday when Coffs play Sawtell and Nambucca take on Gimbisi.
"We want to win," they said in unison.
"Still time to ruin someone's dreams and upset the premiership table."
NAMBUCCA HEADS 38 (Linc Urquart, Mick Ronan 2, Matt Cartwright, Warwick Jones, Gary Edwards, Dean Urquhart tries; Mick Ronan 3 goals ) d COFFS HARBOUR 34 ( Matt Hendy, Joel Thompson, Luke Kelleher, Bert Gray, Damien Williams, Nowan Williams tries; Matt Seccomb 5 goals)
Scrums: Coffs Harbour 14-8.
Errors: Coffs harbour 11, Nambucca Heads 8.
Best players: Mick Ronan, Willy Baker, Linc Urquart (Nambucca Heads), Bert Gray, Shaun Hart, Matt Hendy (Coffs Harbour).
Reserve grade: Coffs Harbour won on forfeit.
Under 18s: Coffs Harbour d Nambucca Heads 28-10.