CLASSY halfback Nathan Curry led Coffs Harbour to a clear-cut 36-6 win over Orara Valley in today's first Ken Orr Memorial match at Coramba.
Brilliant sunshine brought the best crowd to 'the Coliseum' for two or three seasons and they were treated to an awesome display of the representative half's talents.
Curry will come off the bench for Group 2 in next Sunday's representative clash with Group 11 and today showed why rep boss Warren Gilkinson sees him as one of his most important strike weapons.
Probably to keep the feet of his men on the ground, coach Colin Speed agreed Curry had had a fine game but spread the bouquets evenly around.
"Nathan played a lot better today," he said.
"He played straighter and squarer and we got results on the back of that.
"When he backs himself he's an exceptional half back and just needs to be a bit more regular and consistent.
"In saying that there were signs of a lot more confidence right across the team."
While the Comets managed to slip out to 20-6 by half time, there was plenty to like about Orara Valley.
A little more match fit and keener than in last week's loss to Sawtell, co-coach Matt Bye was happy with the first half display.
"It was a fair effort from the boys but from the two glaring mistakes we made, Coffs scored tries both times," he said.
"Once we get those habits out of our game, we'll be okay."
A former great halfback himself, Bye was open about the problems he and co-coach Chris Shears have in the critical six and seven jumpers.
Shears is currently filling in at half - something he's the first man to say isn't ideal - with specialist back row forward Brenden Shipman holding down the job of five-eighth.
"I don't know if we can change that or leave them there and see what happens," Bye said.
"It means they can't do what they do best but if we can adapt a bit and create direction, we'll be right."
A Curry try soon after the resumption hurt the Axemen badly but nothing like the pain a few minutes later when referee Craig Craigie - who made a fine first grade debut - disallowed a try to Nathan Moran.
It was the turning point and the Comets turned the screws when replacement Lachie Miller raced over while skipper Andrew Moran was spending 10 minutes in the cooler.
While there was no doubt his side was seven-tries-to-one better, winning coach Speed predicted the Axemen are on the comeback trail to being a premiership force.
"They had the best structure and shape I've seen for a side in this Group," he said.
"However, it's still early times for all of us.
"I was really pleased today how well we defended off our line and we'll do more work on improving the performance during the two week break."
COFFS HARBOUR COMETS 36 (Scott Street 2, Ryan Gilkinson, Rick Barr, Nathan Curry, Lachie Miller, Luke Beaumont tries; Nathan Curry 4 goals) def ORARA VALLEY AXEMEN 6 (Nathan Moran try; Josh Few goal)
At Coramba Sportsground, Coramba
Referee: Craig Craigie
Penalties: Orara Valley 12-9
Errors: Orara Valley 12, Coffs Harbour 7
Reserve grade: Coffs Harbour d Orara Valley 32-10
Under 18s: Orara Valley bye