North Coast bow out
By MITCHELL DALE
CAPTAINING North Coast for the first time, Sawtell centre Nathan Davies typified his side's spirit despite fighting a losing battle against a star-studded Central Coast on Saturday.
Davies, who carried an injury into the match went down early in the second half.
But, with no fit replacements on the bench, he raised from the ground and played out the match.
It was a gutsy effort and one which drew praise from coach Mark Morrison.
"Shorty (Davies) was absolutely great," Morrison said.
"It was a true captain's knock, when he went down injured he looked up and saw there was no one left to replace him so he just kept going.
"And he made a try-saving tackle late in the game."
North Coast's horror run with injury started in just the first tackle of the match when Old Bar prop Jeremy Beasley tore a quad muscle.
Ten minutes later young five-eighth Sam McCartney rolled his ankle.
Two men down and a 20-point deficit after 15 minutes.
But North Coast didn't throw in the towel and hit back with a try to Orara Valley's Ben McCarthy.
But a mistake from the kick-off and another quick try to Central Coast quickly halted any momentum North Coast had built.
Then came injury number three when Forster-Tuncurry lock Matt Finlayson broke his hand.
But for all the set-backs, North Coast only trailled 24-12 at the break after Orara prop Aaron Considine barged over for a try.
"I was pretty confident at half time," Morrison said.
"But at the break Luke Sprague and Josh McCartney both said they didn't want to continue because of injuries.
"We only had one bloke on the bench, so I told them they had to stay out there."
In the first minute of the second half McCartney, called into the side at the last minute for Chris Piper, was floored by an injury and needed to come off.
That left no replacements and a full half of footy to go.
McCartney was forced to go back out onto the field soon after when Nambucca pivot Will Baker succumbed to a planter tendon (heel) injury.
For the rest of the game, McCartney was a virtual spectator on the wing.
In the end, fatigue beat North Coast.
"We were effectively left with 12 players for most of the second half," Morrison said.
"There were 13 blokes who had to play 60 minutes and most of them had to stay out there for 80.
"Fatigue was the killer."
Morrison said Central Coast were not as impressive as he expected.
"If you ask me if I thought they were a 30-point better side, I would say no," he said.
"They scored four tries from dummy half and that just comes down to (our) fatigue."
As well as Davies, Morrison was also impressed by McCarthy and Considine, along with Macksville fullback Dave Pickvance.