Brains the Comets' key to victory
LOCAL derbies between Sawtell and Coffs Harbour in recent seasons have been decidedly lacklustre.
But not yesterday’s clash between the old foes at Rex Hardaker Oval, when the Comets turned up prepared to announce their candidacy as a semi-final force and emerged with a 28-16 victory.
Coach Warren Gilkinson looked approvingly upon probably the best effort since he took charge of the side.
“They used brainpower and determination again to get that result and week to week that’s what we’ve got to do,” he said.
“The courage and effort they showed was unreal and I want to give special credit to our strappers and committee who are working just as hard to get my blokes to where they are.
“Nothing in this game gets handed to you on a plate and by sticking solid and doing the hard stuff, they’ve been rewarded.”
Sawtell’s preparation suffered when gun forward Dave Buttriss broke down in the final training session and things went from bad to worse when teenaged lock Garreth Evans was stretchered off after just a few minutes of play.
But showing typical character, the Panthers rose to the occasion and resisted strongly until well into the latter stages.
“Losing Dave overnight was a real concern but what got us in the end was spilling too much ball,” sidelined co-coach Rohan Loudon explained.
“You’ve got to make the right options at the right time and to be honest, Coffs did that much better.
“Dropping the ball on the first tackle when the game’s in the balance and brain explosions here and there, makes it a hard job.”
Three times the scores were locked up and the game breaker came when Matt Donovan did one of his mesmerising drifts across field which left the home side clutching at straws.
It inspired Coffs to lift another cog and they iced the celebration cake by scoring the last two tries.
“Matt was great but I don’t want to single anybody out, they all played sensational,” Gilkinson added.