Axemen cut Panthers down to size
WHO needs a full week to prepare for a big game and come out firing? Certainly not Orara Valley.
The Axemen were playing only three days after their loss to Grafton but it didn't show because they looked as fresh as a daisy as they ran over Sawtell 46-28 in the midweek catch-up played at Coramba tonight.
The temperature might've been chilly but Orara Valley was hot for the opening 50 minutes opening up an impressive 34-4 lead.
Buoyed by the kicking game of Mal Webster who if he wasn't kicking 40-20s was causing havoc with a chip and chase, the Axemen showed the type of fast paced football they're capable of to break a three game losing streak and bounce back into the top five.
Captain Richie Roberts continued his great form this year with the lock scoring a hat-trick. Not only did Roberts drive the team with his attack but also his voice as he constantly urged his teammates on in the vital clash.
"As captain you take a whole lot of responsibility on your shoulders and you've got to go and lead by example," Roberts said.
"I led as best as I could today and tried to motivate my troops after the short turnaround and get them in the right frame of mind to back up and it worked out really well."
The night started badly for Sawtell when captain-coach Adam Loudon had a pass intercepted by Reece Sandy for a runaway try and the night got worse from there.
"We were on the back foot from the start," Loudon said.
"I think if you start bad it seems to flow on a little bit. Especially on a night like tonight."
Both teams fielded squads that were below full strength but Sawtell had four players from its under-18s squad on the field at some stages.
Loudon said giving the younger players a taste of first grade is a positive but admits they may have been overwhelmed when the Axemen got a run on.
"A little bit of inexperience and new blokes in different spots, a few injuries and we just didn't adjust to kicks," was the quick summation the Panthers coach made of the match.
There was some hope for the Panthers when tries to Etiveni Uhatafe, Aidan Ioane and Luke Uikeloto dragged the margin back to only 12 points with a quarter of an hour's play still remaining.
Any hopes of a miracle comeback were snuffed though when Jeremy Taylor flew high over the opposing fullback to catch a bomb and score a spectacular try.
ORARA VALLEY 46 (Richie Roberts 3, Reece Sandy, Jeremy Taylor, Mal Webster, Russell Lardner, Nathan Davis tries; Jeremy Taylor 7 goals) def SAWTELL 28 (Etiveni Uhatafe, Aidan Ioane, Jarrod Few, Luke Uikelotu, Todd Johnson tries; Jarrod Few 4 goals).
Reserve grade: Orara Valley def Sawtell 18-16.
Who will win the 2016 Group 2 Rugby League First Grade Premiership?
This poll ended on 15 August 2016.
South Grafton Rebels
Coffs Harbour Comets
Nambucca Heads Roosters
Macksville Sea Eagles
Orara Valley Axemen
This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.