Coffs Harbour playmaker Troy Robinson has taken control of the Comets during the week.
Coffs Harbour playmaker Troy Robinson has taken control of the Comets during the week. Leigh Jensen

Clash to attract big crowd

APART from team aspirations, the gate-takings from today’s sudden-death blockbuster at Rex Hardaker Oval are vitally important to Group 2 rugby league’s economic fortunes.

Having Sawtell and Coffs Harbour appear in a semi-final for the second straight year has the bean-counters smiling with pleasure, especially after last weekend’s match at Kempsey fell $4000 short of the take from 2010’s comparable game.

“The crowd should be huge, but I’ll leave the money angle to the big bosses,” Panthers coach Rohan Loudon said.

“It will take a full 80-minute effort to beat Coffs but there’s not much to improve on, or change from last week.

“We were pretty much beaten by the bounce of the ball, but if there’s one thing I want, the boys have to be dominant after the first tackle.

“A couple of times we slackened off deeper in the count against Macleay and let them come further up field in the set than they should’ve.

“And I want at least a 10 percent lift when Robbo (Troy Robinson) comes off the bench and special attention when Matt Donovan goes drifting across field looking for Rick McGrady.”

Comets boss Warren Gilkinson happily admits his rival is on the money with those predictions but has added a twist.

“All the usual set pieces will be used, apart from a variation here and there to suit the occasion,” he chuckled.

“Yes, there is one totally new move we perfected on Thursday night and I can’t wait to try it out under match conditions.

“By the way, Rohan is right to be worried about Robbo as he led both training sessions this week; the first time it’s happened all year.”

Out of the Macksville game came one lesson Gilkinson said must be learned.

“In the late stages, if we get to the front, we have to move up and shut down their playmakers at all costs,” he said.

“Should be a super game.”



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