Coffs Harbour gains hope

THEY’RE keeping a lid on things at Advocate Park, but the signs are there that the long, 25-year premierships drought at Coffs Harbour may be coming to an end.

Yesterday the Comets showed that when an extra gear is needed to win a match of football they are able to find it easily.

Then again, finding a gear yesterday in the second half wouldn’t have been hard.

Coffs Harbour played the opening 40 minutes as if they believed the points would be given to them simply for running onto the field.

Slack marker defence, throwing passes around well inside their own half and a lack of pressure on Bellingen’s main attacking weapons was a pointer to Coffs Harbour being off the boil, and so it proved.

Playing Bellingen at Bellingen is always a difficult assignment and the Magpies’ band of no-names threw everything at Coffs

Harbour bar the kitchen sink and it paid dividends.

At the main break Bellingen were leading 20-14 and the slightest hint of an upset was in the air if Coffs Harbour’s attitude didn’t change.

Coffs Harbour coach Warren Gilkinson sensed it too and he let his boys know in no uncertain terms that the first-half performance was unacceptable. The players responded accordingly and found the extra gear that good teams have.

“I just told them that they’re not having a go and we were making mistakes that we shouldn’t be,” Gilkinson said of his half-time message.

“I told them to get back out there, lift ourselves, get into gear and play our game plan and what we know.

“As soon as we did things started happening.”

Two dropped balls by Bellingen soon after the resumption were costly for the Magpies as hooker Nathan Sherlock ran in two tries to restore the lead for Coffs Harbour.

When Karl Younger added another two minutes later the Comets were leading by 12 and the writing was on the wall.

“Those two dropped balls after half-time killed us,” Bellingen coach Josh White lamented.

Rather than be downcast about a poor second-half performance though, White was surprisingly upbeat.

“I said to my blokes that I’m proud of them because they stuck in there.

“We’re depleted as we’ve got blokes who left, but we’ve got blokes who are struggling with injury.

“Ryan O’Connor is playing on one leg and Anthony Fensom is playing with one shoulder.

“They’re the blokes that I take my hat off to every week.

“The blokes that aren’t here now didn’t want to be here anyway.

“What we’ve got now is what we’ve got, so let’s just make the most of what we’ve got and enjoy each other’s company while we’re coming home.

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