Coffs razzle dazzles the Axemen
COFFS Harbour has retained the Ken Orr Memorial Shield for the third straight year with a sparkling 68-10 win over Orara Valley.
Both sides battled to get a full complement of troops onto the arena and more than a handful in each team played more than one grade.
Sure, the defence was missing and there were lots and lots of handling errors that may not have been seen if there was more riding on the outcome but the match was played in the right spirit and the players enjoyed it immensely.
Above all, the game was interesting, which can't be said for a lot of fare put out there for the supporters in this most difficult season and the small crowd expressed their appreciation often and with gusto.
For winning coach Steve Gooley, it was a bittersweet outcome, knowing his side will miss the play-offs.
"It put a smile on the face but in the end, too little too late," he said.
"It shows how well we can play when the minds are on the job.
"The way we threw the ball around really stood out and a couple of the plays we've practised ad nauseum.
"Shame some regulars didn't front but I said to those ready to go before the match to really have some fun and that's what they did."
The Coffs halves were sensational, especially Nathan Curry who crossed twice in five minutes following unbelievable individual brilliance.
His first came after he danced back and forth across the field, dodging and stepping one opponent after another.
At least a dozen times it seemed certain the defence had him lined up but eventually a needle-eye opening appeared and he scooted across the line.
The follow-up was more regulation but just as pretty to watch.
It was a long bust from inside Comets territory but once Curry went through the gap he turned on the afterburners and raced 80 metres to the opposite end of the field for a scorcher.
"We all enjoyed watching that," Gooley said.
The score blew out to 68-0 before the Axemen delivered a second leg for the winning double.
Andy Gardner went over to a rousing cheer.
Not long after referee James Maggio sin-binned Coffs second-rower Josh Fox and two minutes later, gave Curry a cooling off period on the sideline as well.
Orara seized the numerical advantage to turn on their own version of the old razzle dazzle with Nathan Hardy getting the last try.
Few touchdowns by the Axemen in the glory years were ever cheered as loudly and it delighted battling captain-coach Chris Shears.
"It was good to see the boys throwing the ball about and having fun," he said.
"We would probably do things differently if we were on the way to the semis but ... hey, it was a great feeling."
Shears paid tribute to the players backing up from the lower grades so that the club can finish the season with heads held high.
"About eight or so doubled up today including Nathan Schofield from the juniors.
"Last week he played three grades but today I only let him go on for two - wanted to handle him with care - but it shows what a good prospect for the future he is."
COFFS HARBOUR COMETS 68 ( S Street 3 N Curry 2 A Penese 2 M Williams 2 A Lefaoseu 2 C Hopkins S Street 10 goals) bt ORARA VALLEY AXEMEN 10 (A Gardner N Hardy tries H Spinks goal)
Scrums: Coffs Harbour 7-6
Penalties: Orara Valley 11-9
Errors: Orara Valley 12, Coffs Harbour 9
At Coramba Sportsground, Coramba
Referee: James Maggio
Reserve grade: Orara Valley bt Coffs Harbour 26-16
Under 18s: Coffs Harbour bt Orara Valley 62-0