Sawtell hooker Dale Churchland has his efforts for a length of the field intercept try thwarted by pacy Orara Valley winger Dar
Sawtell hooker Dale Churchland has his efforts for a length of the field intercept try thwarted by pacy Orara Valley winger Dar

With Hope in their hearts




BACKSTAGE after a rock concert the girls always want to be with the lead guitarist or the charismatic front man.

Now Kris Watson doesn't think he's a chance to win 'Rock Star INXS' but when it comes to plaudits from the fans, Watson receives more recognition than his halves partner in crime, Brendan Hope.

Every week Hope just quietly goes about his business in a no fuss manner that gets the job done.

Put simply, Hope is the drummer of the Sawtell band.

In the second half of yesterday's 26-22 defeat of Orara Valley, the Panthers needed some go forward and they got it.

Matt Plater and Neal McCarthy were outstanding in that department, but when it needed some flair to top off the hard work and someone had to step up and take on the line, Hope was the man.

Having lost the lead, Hope cashed in on a power set by Sawtell when he noticed the fullback was a bit deep and put through a short grubber kick.

He then ran on to collect his own ball before putting Dale Churchland over for his second try.

Sawtell led 20-18 after the conversion and they never relinquished their lead for the rest of the afternoon.

If the Sawtell 'groupies' won't pat Hope on the back, Panthers coach Craig Wallace certainly will.

"He just does little things at times when it's crucial," Wallace said.

"He did the same when we beat Port here with just one little thing that got us on the go forward and he did it another couple of times today.

"They're great together (Hope and Watson), they're just a great combination together."

Despite a sterling defensive effort from Orara's Paul Tomlinson, Sawtell easily won the forward battle with Plater and McCarthy putting on a lesson of how to create a platform for the halves to work from.

As a prop forward himself, the Sawtell coach never underestimates the value of strong yards made up the middle and it formed a large part of his game plan to take on the mighty Axemen.

"I had a talk to them (Plater and McCarthy) on Thursday night and then I had another chat to them before the game today and I said that you two are going to win the game for us," the proud coach said.

"If those two didn't go forward we were going to struggle and they had an absolute power game today and they led the way."

If this match was a horse race the stewards would have called for an inquiry.

The form reversals were that dramatic.

Sawtell have been chipping away every week with their head held high during a period of player depletion due to injuries. Yesterday they were magnificent.

On the other hand, Orara, who have been in contention for the Clayton Cup all year, put in a flat, lifeless performance and their captain-coach Brad Hart knows it.

"It was just our enthusiasm today," he said. "It got to the last 10 minutes then we wanted to play but the game's over and done with by then.

"I think this loss has been brewing for the last couple of weeks, just quietly. We were lucky to get away with a couple of games there.

"We'll cop it on the chin. To be honest we've got no excuses, we were beaten fair and square as Sawtell just out enthused us."

SAWTELL PANTHERS 26 (Dale Churchland 2, Damien Irvine, Brendan Hope tries; Nathan Davies 5 goals) d ORARA VALLEY AXEMEN 22 (Matt Donovan, Ryan Walker, Darren Mercy, Brant O'Dea, Brad Hart tries; Scott Lacey goal).

Scrums: Sawtell 10-9.

Penalties: Orara Valley 11-10.

Errors: Sawtell 13, Orara Valley 12.

Best Players: Sawtell Brendan Hope, Matt Plater, Kris Watson. Orara Valley - Paul Tomlinson, Matt Donovan, Ben McCarthy.

Reserve Grade: Sawtell d Orara Valley 30-14.

Under 18: Sawtell d Orara Valley 50-0.

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