Panthers burn with passion
By GREG WHITE
THE old fire was back in the belly when Sawtell pushed aside the Group 2 rugby league challenge of Orara Valley at Coramba yesterday.
The Panthers won 44-24 after holding a narrow 16-12 margin at the interval.
Orara were still in the game at that point but within 10 minutes of coming back to the arena, winning was no longer an option.
It had become more a question of saving the afternoon from becoming a complete debacle as the Panther forwards opened up with all guns blazing.
"Very pleased with how they kept lifting once they got on top," Sawtell captain-coach Craig Wallace said.
Back row pairing Daniel Tempest and Jason Usher were inspiring and with hooker Dale Churchland alternating between darts from dummy half and terrorising the Axemen in defence, the rest of the team lifted accordingly.
In fact, every Sawtell player did at least one brilliant thing during the match with a handful doing several.
"We trained well and we came out here confident," Wallace said.
"We'd picked out the areas we wanted to target and most of the thing paid off."
Even when the Panthers were clearly in charge their coach could be heard behind the line urging them to go even harder.
But rival captain-coach Darryl Fisher was far from despondent with the result.
"Sometimes these things happen when you don't have somebody like Brett Davis and you lose players early in the match and the rhythm is upset," he said.
"Things can be learned and I think we all saw what was being done wrong."
Ryan Walker slotted smoothly in for the injured Brett Davis and had a fine first half but was noticeably tamed in the early stages of the second.
The Axemen rallied in the dying minutes to cross twice but, by then, the bird had flown.
"That was a good preparation for the tough run coming up," Wallace said.
"We've got to keep rolling and building."
In other first grade matches, Macleay Valley 38 d Bellingen 10, Macksville 42 d Nambucca Heads 14 and Port Macquarie 44 d Woolgoolga 16.