Sawtell muscle up
By GREG WHITE
SAWTELL 40 v COFFS HARBOUR 20
THE Sawtell Panthers were giving away no trade secrets after a solid 40-20 win against Coffs Harbour in the final Group 2 trial at Advocate Park yesterday.
If an eight tries to four advantage is an indication of Panther prospects in 2005 then the club is fully deserving of its pre-season favouritism, something assistant coach Greg Shuttleworth is keen to play down.
"I don't know where all this talk is coming from and frankly it amuses us," Shuttleworth says.
"All that is important right now is we're ready to face Gimbisi on April 10."
Coffs started brightly, sneaking away to an early lead before Sawtell hit top flight.
By half-time the Panthers had reached 24-12 without much difficulty aided by a penalty count that at one point leaned eight-zip in their favour.
"You didn't see all the aces in our pack," Shuttleworth said.
"Plenty of surprises are left for when the real stuff starts.
"There's enough to go around for everybody."
Despite losing to the Comets' arch-rivals, club boss Scott Mieni was well short of disappointment.
"If I wasn't hopeful I wouldn't be doing this job," he mused.
"The boys went pretty well considering the sorting out of a final starting line-up is continuing and we still have players to bring back into the side."
The Panthers will be the team to beat this season no matter how hard they try to keep the lid on speculation as to their final fortunes.
They ooze experience and skills in their forward pack and speed to burn past the No. 7 jersey.
Once they get the timing right the sky is the limit.
As for the Comets, no-one should start preparing a report for the coroner prematurely.
They attack well and are learning the most effective defensive patterns.
When their reaction time to critical incidents is on song they'll make a fine football team.
Neither club will trial again before the season begins on April 10 with Coffs preparing to host Port Macquarie at Advocate Park while Sawtell go into battle just down the road at Rex Hardaker Oval against Gimbisi Valley.
SAWTELL 40 - Dave Whiley (2), Brendan Hope, Nathan Davies, Dennis Gordon, Mick Battye, Craig Wallace and Bobby Kennedy (tries), Nathan Davies (4) goals.
COFFS HARBOUR 20 - Darren McCarthy (2), Cameron Lewis, Matt Hendy (tries), Darren McCarthy (2) goals.
Reserve grade ? Sawtell d Coffs Harbour 30-22.
Under 18's ? Coffs Harbour d Sawtell 38-16.