Saints can do better
By BRAD GREENSHIELDS
FROM the outside, Sawtell's victory in their opening match of the season was a promising start for 2005.
But talk to new coach Russ Matthews, and you get the impression from the inner circle, that the Saints performance was below their expected best.
Although satisfied with the win, Matthews mood could hardly be described as buoyant.
"The boys showed good patches today, but there's still room for improvement," he said.
"They weren't doing the disciplined thing and bringing it into the centre corridor again, but we'll work on that through the season and get better."
And when you have a player the calibre of Luke Matthews across the half-forward line, why wouldn't you want to take the direct route to goal?
Matthews was clearly the best player on the ground with his seven goals and continued to set up opportunities for team mates.
So dominant was his performance, that at times, Matthews looked like a Picasso at a house painters convention.
His seventh and final goal simply oozed class.
With the ball slippery from a heavy shower, Matthews controlled the ball close to the behind post, found himself corralled for room, and then casually kicked a banana kick goal.
Coach Matthews was obviously impressed with Luke's performance, displaying more than a hint of fatherly pride in his eldest son.
"He really presents himself there, and he likes the room to move around in,"
"Guys have got to be pretty fit to keep with him."
The Lions debut as a football club ended up being a disappointing day.
Full of hope and optimism that all new ventures have at the start of their first ever game, the club quickly found themselves a class player or two short of being a very competitive unit.
The absence of playing coach Jimmy Angel through family commitments, was a large hole to fill, but when captain Kyle Brown left the field early in the third quarter due to injury, the Lions could have been forgiven for throwing in the towel.
But a strong culture seems to have already been instilled at the fledgling club, as at no stage did the remaining players shirk an issue.
An area of improvement Nambucca Valley must rectify quickly, is their desire to be accountable for their opponent.
Too often, Sawtell players were allowed to roam forward of the ball unchecked.
If an opposition team refuses to man up Saints' midfielder Mark Couzens, as happened on Saturday, he will run around all day racking up possessions.
Couzens gained too many uncontested kicks, and using the time and space afforded to him, was able to pin point passes, as well as drift forward and kick three goals himself.
Nambucca Valley waited until half way through the third quarter for their historic first goal, with Trent Baade ensuring his name will become an answer to a question at any future club trivia nights.
Sawtell/Toormina 6.3 8.7 14.8 18.16 (124) d Nambucca Valley 0.0 0.3 2.6 2.6 (18).
Goals Saw/T: L. Matthews (7), M. Couzens (3), M. Stanberg (2), J. Hardy (2), R. Zeegers, M. Bibby, D. Meyers, A. Penfold. N.Vall: T. Baade, A. Fitzhenry. Best Saw/T: L. Matthews, M. Couzens, M. Stanberg, D. Carey, J. Hardy. N.Vall: G. McIntyre, M. Townsend, A. Green, D. Linares, L. Bensen.