Orara on top in fumbleathon

By GREG WHITE

THERE are better places to be on a cold, wet, miserable Sunday afternoon than the football at Coramba Colliseum. But the hardy souls desperate to watch a game of rugby league got plenty for their $6 yesterday. They saw a 26-18 Orara Valley win over old rivals Coffs Harbour with a few laughs thrown in for good measure. In fact, a lot of laughs with the players stumbling and fumbling their way across the field as the rain drizzled in from the west, making mistake-free handling next to impossible. "Not the best conditions but you play according to how the game pans out," Orara captain coach Matt Donovan admitted. "The game might not have been pretty to look at, in fact it was probably downright ugly. "But it's two competition points and the next step along the way to steady improvement." The Axemen took a 16-8 lead into the second half and looked set to kick on after winning six scrums in a row and putting enormous pressure on the Comets in goal. "We defended well off our line to keep turning them back," Comets coach Scott Mieni said. "The Paul Wallace try that put us two points behind gave us a sniff but you can always have things go wrong on wet days." And didn't it go wrong big time for Coffs at a crucial stage. A towering Axemen kick to the in goal was taken beautifully by a perfectly positioned Aaron Walsh. But instead of making the ball dead, Walsh inexplicably took two steps back infield only to be smashed back in goal by the thundering Orara chasers. The resulting goal line drop out gave possession back to the home side who needed one pass off the ruck to have Des Teale hurtling across for the matchwinner. "Would you believe, exactly the same thing happened to us out here last year?" Mieni remarked. "Sure it hurt us but I think the damage was done just before that. "Orara had repeat sets while we kept turning the ball over meaning they were doing that little bit extra to keep in front." But whatever the conditions and whichever way the ball managed to bounce, Donovan said victory was earned the old fashioned way. "Hanging in and gutsing it out got us home. "We've been trying to get the monkey off our back with a win and it's happened. "If we keep our consistency at training and stick it out every week, we'll only get better and better."

Supporters Snapshot "Very hot and cold. Sometimes disappointing but we did enough to win." - John Cullen (Orara Valley) "Put our woes down to the wet weather, I suppose."- Stewart Hunter (Coffs Harbour).

Impact point In the 67th minute, the rush of blood to the head of Aaron Walsh head as he fielded a kick in the Comets' in goal.

ORARA VALLEY AXEMEN 26 (Dave Smith 2, Matt Donovan, Joel Riddle, Des Teale tries; Scott Lacey 2, Brett Davis goals) def COFFS HARBOUR COMETS 18 (Paul Wallace 3, Jeremy Munro tries; Blake Greenup goal). Scrums: Orara Valley 16-10. Penalties: Orara Valley 8-5. Errors: Orara Valley 15, Coffs Harbour 9. Best Players: Joel Lacey, Brett Davis, Tristan Hamilton-Giggins (Orara Valley) - Josh McShanag, Paul Wallace, Lee Ashford (Coffs Harbour). Reserve Grade: Orara Valley 14 d Coffs Harbour 6. Under 18: Coffs Harbour 32 d Orara Valley 6.



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