Orara trying to tackle a big problem
By BRAD GREENSHIELDS
WHICH of the following two situations is the greater loss to their respective teams? Could it be the absence of five-eighth Willie Lockwood from the Macleay Valley team due to suspension or is it Orara Valley missing injured veteran halfback Brett Davis? The answer to these questions could well decide the result of this afternoon's minor preliminary semi final between the Mustangs and the Axemen at Kempsey's Verge St. Oval. Orara Valley captain-coach Matt Donovan believes that it's the Mustangs who will fare the worst out of this equation. "Willie Lockwood is their linchpin, their go to man," he said. "He comes alive when the ball is close to the try line, he's a big boy with strength and his kicking game and passes will be missed by them. "At the same time though we're missing Brett Davis which evens it up a bit." What may tip the scales further in the Axemen's favour for today's knockout clash is the fact that Davis' replacement in the number seven jersey is the equally brilliant Brad Hart. If there's one concern that Donovan has about his team, it's defence. Of the five teams who've reached the semi's, Orara Valley easily have the worst defensive record. On average, the Axemen have been conceding 33.5 points a game in 2006. The next worst performed team defensively is Woolgoolga who've been letting in just under 24 points a game while today's opponent Macleay Valley have been conceding only 20.5 points a match. It's said that defence wins semi-finals and Donovan has made a change to the back line to shore up this area. Adam McCarthy has been moved to right centre as Orara have let through a lot of tries down that side, while Ryan Walker has been named at fullback.