One game to go
By GREG WHITE
ONE last trip to the paddock remains before Coffs Rugby can claim another Mid North Coast zone premiership following Saturday's stunning 23-0 victory over Dorrigo in the major semi final.
After a season where he's pulled off numerous stunning coups and delivered a host of nasty surprises to his rivals, coach Paul Butcher released another rabbit from the hat when in jumper 22, the burly frame of Brendan Hoy trundled out at halfback in the run-on side.
"Did you like that?" Butcher asked through his ear-to-ear grin.
"Brendan's gonna throw dummies out there all day and with only six games in second grade under his belt all year, it's good to have his experience to call on."
It was a superb return from the veteran playmaker who's made more comebacks in crucial situations than Melba.
"It'll give me a chance in a fortnight to announce another retirement," Hoy quipped.
But while Hoy's laser-guided passing game added an unexpected dimension there were other highlights in a game that needed every ounce of toughness and application to get on top of the valiant Rangers.
Like a rolling maul midway through the first half that had even the officials and sponsors on the balcony above the clubhouse putting down their beer glasses and stopping their chatter to watch in fascination.
And a tackle pulled off by Kevin Simpson after a lazy kick down field.
He hit the Dorrigo receiver so hard and drove him back so far the poor fellow almost ended up in the caboose of one of those rusting rail cars up on the plateau.
"Against a side that was very sharp, very aggressive - that was a fine effort," Butcher said.
"While we didn't go to sleep in the second half we had our work cut out for a while.
"I knew the Rangers would come back with everything but we found enough pressure when it was needed."
Unable to deliver the same continued intensity as the home side, Dorrigo were often forced to play a spoiling game and without the same resources in attack they were always in catch up mode.
With the season decider now less than a fortnight away, Butcher said he's holding more surprises up his sleeve to match Saturday's 'rolling maul' highlight.
"Yes, there's something we're going to do that I've already cleared with the referees," he said mysteriously.
"The purists may frown a bit but I promise it'll look spectacular."
Those booking their space already for grand final day can hardly wait.
COFFS RUGBY 23 (Matt Hoy, Alex Hulme, Kevin Simpson tries; Angus Garland conversion and 2 penalties) def DORRIGO RANGERS nil. Scrums: Coffs 11-9. Penalties: Dorrigo 16-12. Lineouts: Coffs 17 (8 against throw), Dorrigo 9 (3 against throw). Best players: Brendan Hoy, Mitch Lind, Mark Hine (Coffs Rugby). Grant Lawler, Hunter Harley, Paul Sheather (Dorrigo). Second Grade: Port Macquarie Pirates 29 d Coffs Rugby 0. Under 18: Coffs Rugby 27 d South West Rocks 21.