Roosters are still alive
By BRAD GREENSHIELDS
YESTERDAY'S 27-26 victory has done more than simply keep Nambucca Heads alive for another week.
Other results from this weekend's round of Group 2 matches has the Roosters still sitting in sixth place, but amazingly they've come within only one game of third placed Macleay Valley.
Trailing by six points at half-time, Roosters' coach Geoff Batten highlighted only one area of concern during the break and once it was tightened up, the game was turned on its head as the Axemen couldn't score until just before the final bell was about to sound.
"I just said to them at half-time that our tackling needed to be better," Batten said.
"We've come off a couple of intense games against Macksville, the Mustangs and Sawtell. Not taking anything away from Orara but they're just a different team and we seemed to drop off our intensity because the opposition wasn't quite as intense.
"I think we picked up a bit and it seemed like a different side defensively in the second half."
The go forward was never an issue for Nambucca Heads.
Young prop Kale Burton continues to show maturity well beyond his years and it seemed that every time the Roosters completed a set, Burton put his hand up for two hit-ups.
Batten knows that type of performance from his gun front-rower has become par for course and he's thankful that Burton made his way up the coast from Bega over summer.
"He's a machine mate," Batten said in admiration.
"At the moment I've got Dean Urquhart out with a broken arm and Matt Cartwright, the other front rower, has got a broken hand.
"Without Kale we're gone mate, we haven't got anything."
He was dead on his feet at the final whistle but his coach finds it extremely difficult to give him anything less than 80 minutes each week.
"You can't look after him," he said.
"He doesn't like to be looked after anyway, he's a hard nut for an 18 year-old."
While Batten noted that Orara Valley weren't as intense as other clubs they've met recently, Axemen captain-coach Matt Donovan was lost for answers after the contest at how his team once again proved to be their own worst enemy.
"Sides aren't beating us, we're beating ourselves," he fumed.
"We don't know how to shut down teams, we're just sort of going try for try with teams and this is the same thing I talked about last week."
Things didn't start well for the Axemen when Brett Davis was a late withdrawal due to injury forcing a half combination of Ben McCarthy and Brad Hart.
Donovan refuses to believe though that the loss of the ageing master should make that big a difference to the levels of performance.
"He's got that stern way about him Brett and he pushes the boys around and we're lacking that and the kicking game a little bit," he said.
"We've got to learn to compensate for these things, Brett's not going to be there forever and we've got to all put up our hand and try and work things."
Suddenly a home game against old rival Macksville this Sunday has become a case of do-or-die for Orara. Semi-final football has arrived at Group 2 a month early.