STRONG TACKLE: The Comets had a defensive pattern which offered the Axemen little room to move.
STRONG TACKLE: The Comets had a defensive pattern which offered the Axemen little room to move. Greg White

Comets come in waves to swamp Orara

THERE was no second half fade out this week when Coffs Harbour stormed over Orara Valley 46-14 and set up a meeting with Grafton to decide which outfit will host the Group 2 grand final.

The Comets burned turf scoring three tries in the final nine minutes to put an end to any fading hopes the home side had of picking up a get out of jail free card.

Both clubs played 58 minutes reduced to 12 men following an incident which saw Orara centre Ryan Gill and Coffs prop Jason Whareaitu dismissed by referee Nathan Grace.

Adding to Coffs' woes was the loss of winger Coen Van Dugteren with a severe knee injury which will end his season..

An ambulance was called to the ground to transport him to hospital and this precipitated a lengthy half time break which may have slowed Orara's momentum and saw them lapse in concentration and let in a converted try minutes after the resumption.

With so many disruptions, winning coach Brandon Costin was full of praise for his men.

"We actually lost both wingers and had to make two changes you normally wouldn't do and I think it lit a fire in the boys," he said.

"For the last 20 minutes we had no subs and they had to stay out there and had to fight through.

"That builds a bit of camaraderie in the team."

One feature of the second half was the purposeful running by the winning side.

The moment a gap appeared in Orara's defensive line, a big Coffs forward would head towards it with support runners trailing.

It caused havoc and left Orara boss Colin Speed shaking his head with frustration.

"The big forward pack and their roll-on down the paddock was too hard to hold," he said.

"Then there is their experience whereas we all have young fellas on a learning curve.

"Give them credit...much too good on the day."

On Saturday it was the end of the trail for Sawtell after being eliminated 26-22 by Macksville, the side it had beaten one week earlier by the same margin.

The Panthers had a 10 points lead at intermission but the visitors' backline clicked into gear and directed by veteran Cameron Blair managed to claw their way back and take out an entertaining match.



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