Orara kick their way to victory in reserve grade
By GREG WHITE
A superior kicking strategy paved the way for Orara Valley's 32-4 victory over Sawtell in yesterday's reserve grade grand final. "I thought I kicked pretty well," the Axemen's veteran captain-coach Matt Bye joked in the post-mortem. "Still, if I'd made a mess of things it wouldn't have mattered because I'm retiring. "That's it for my football career." It took 16 minutes of dour slogging before Orara breached the Sawtell dam. That task was completed, the minor premiers stormed away with the Panthers grimly hanging on to stay in contact. But if Sawtell captain-coach Nathan Graham was upset with being on the losing side he wasn't giving anything away. "No use being uptight," was his glum assessment. "We had plenty of advance warning that things may not finish well when we trailed 22-0 at the break. "Not many sides can come back from that, especially in the last game of the year. Graham agreed with Bye that kicking had been the deciding factor, although he wasn't cracking as many jokes about it as his rival. "We had no one in as close as Matty," he remarked. "Scott Fardon kicks from fullback and while we got away with it in the last couple of matches, today was a different story." Orara poured on the pressure following the resumption and it wasn't until 14 minutes from the end, Sawtell created some statistics of their own. Centre Mitch Thompson completed an outstanding finals series when he crossed for his eighth try in three matches, but for the Panthers, that was it. "It's been fantastic playing with these blokes," Bye said. "We've had a lot of fun, not being under the same pressure and having all the expectations on you that first grade have had." Joining Bye in retirement is perennial warhorse, John Munday, who is adamant there will be no comeback. "That's it. No more. No way," he said, as he tossed his boots towards a rubbish bin on his way to the showers.
ORARA VALLEY AXEMEN 32 (Paul Donovan, Brendan Moran, Tony Ross, Nathan Bye, Damian Howard, Jay Silvester tries; Howard 4 goals) def SAWTELL PANTHERS 4 (Mitch Thompson try) Scrums: 8-all Penalties: Orara Valley 4-3 Errors: Sawtell 15, Orara Valley 8 Best Players: Joel Lacey, Matt Bye, John Munday (Orara Valley) - Cheyne Butcher, Nathan Graham, Scott Fardon (Sawtell)