GAME ON: Coffs and Sawtell have vastly different playing rosters since last time they collided head on in a local derby. Leigh Jensen
GAME ON: Coffs and Sawtell have vastly different playing rosters since last time they collided head on in a local derby. Leigh Jensen

Comets’ blazing start to season

BIG changes have taken place since the last time Coffs Harbour and Sawtell lined up in a Group 2 local derby.

For one thing the faces are different but on this occasion the Comets are enjoying the best start to a season since 1997 by winning their first four games to lead the premiership.

The team has conceded only 34 points which would have most coaches excited - unless you are Colin Speed, determined to keep his feet planted firmly on the ground.

"We have still leaked some points at crucial stages of our games and this is a key area that we want to work on," he said.

"It is pleasing on the other hand as we do train heavily on defensive structures and taking pride in defending our line.

"Last week Macksville put us under some pressure and it was good to see how the boys responded. It's easy to score points and defend when you are not fatigued, so I will be looking for a big improvement there also.

"At this point in time, aside from Macksville, we have only beaten the three teams on the bottom of the ladder. Also last week Macksville put 20 points on us in the first half, so we are well short of the goals we have set."

The former premiership-winning NRRRL coach is predicting a bumper Mother's Day crowd where the smell of rivalry is thick in the air.

"Talking to a lot of the guys in our club it reminds me very much of the Grafton rivalry between the Ghosts and the Rebels and I am looking forward to the emotion of that."

Meanwhile, Sawtell co-coaches Eddie Harrison and Damian Irvine have made three disciplinary changes due to transgressions prior to the Bellingen outing.

These allow Adam Loudon to move closer to the action while giving Danny Russell a commission to cause havoc working off the back of the pack.

"Rusty won't be a battering ram but gives us more options working both sides of the ruck," Harrison said. "Adam is a great organiser so we may actually be stronger."

Comets V Panthers

Coffs Harbour

1. Scott Street, 2. Luke Beaumont, 3. Abel Lefaoseu, 4. Michael Meadows, 5. Ryan Gilkinson, 6. Daniel Slater, 7. Nathan Curry, 8. Calline Tapine, 9. Andrew

Smith, 10. Ben Parkinson, 11. Rick Barr, 12. Sean Gilmore, 13. Matt Hendy. Reserve: Vikram Atwal.

Sawtell

1. Warren Jarrett, 2. Shaun Duncan, 3. Daniel Quinn, 4. Nathan Davies, 5. Sukhpal Mahli, 6. Cameron Blair, 7. Adam Loudon, 8. Blake Keeping, 9. Nick English, 10. Josh Lewis, 11. Eddie Harrison, 12. Damian Irvine, 13. Danny Russell. Reserve: Dean McLaughlan.

Kick-off: 2.30pm tomorrow at Geoff King Motors Oval, Coffs Harbour.

Referee: Nathan Grace.



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