Coffs Harbour's surging defence proved too much of an obstacle for Bellingen to overcome.
Coffs Harbour's surging defence proved too much of an obstacle for Bellingen to overcome. Leigh Jensen

Comets' defence proves too hot for Magpies to handle

THERE were some ragged moments for Coffs Harbour before they put away Bellinger Valley-Dorrigo 56-4 on an icy afternoon at Bellingen Park.

Without disrespecting the Magpies, class eventually delivered the Comets the two competition points but not before the home side showed how easy it is to get under the skin of some players.

Four times in the match, the visitors were marched a further 10 metres from a penalty by referee Ray Pettit following dissent and the man least pleased was coach Colin Speed.

"The discipline and back chat was a bit ludicrous," Speed said.

"There was a bit of frustration but there should only be one person talking to the referee and that's the captain.

"But respect goes both ways."

Both Speed and Bellingen coach Maurie Hulbert agreed that Coffs Harbour's superior defence had carried the day.

Speed saw it as the big factor of improvement since last week's thrashing by Grafton.

"Defence was so much better and our attitude in defence has turned around," he said.

"Last week was so poor but everybody stuck his hand up today.

"I commend the boys for that.

"They knew the solution, they knew the areas where we had to improve and came out and got the job done."

Bellingen lack game-breakers but that's not saying they lack ability.

Winger Richard Lui is in the top bracket within Group 2 in that position, half Luke Beaumont is a brilliant attacking force at his best and others would hold a first grade berth wherever they played.

However, without a handful of leaders to control the flow of play they will be just below the better sides.

"We had a bunch of kids out there carrying injuries and they still went great," Hulbert said.

"For 20 minutes in both halves they really put in and were competitive with a really good side.

"But in the end, Coffs were a bit too classy."

Meanwhile, Sawtell again showed the right stuff and gave Grafton an almighty fright.

Ghosts came back late to win 40-38 win after the Panthers ambushed them by putting 16 points on the board in the opening minutes.

"We were under the pump the whole game," Ghosts captain-coach Ryan Farrell admitted.

"We've had a couple of big games the last couple of weeks and were probably a bit flat and got a rude shock.

Sawtell are a good team."

Sawtell stretched the lead with two early second half tries but late tries to Farrell and Ryan Binge allowed them to break out of jail.


COFFS HARBOUR COMETS 56 (Peter Irwin 3, Blair Blanchette 2, Callan Tapine 2, Jacob Van Hammond, Kyle Gallen, Nathan Curry tries; Nathan Curry 8 goals) def BELLINGER VALLEY-DORRIGO 4 (Richard Nui try)

Scrums: Coffs Harbour 9-5

Penalties: Bellingen 16-6

Errors: Bellingen 15, Coffs Harbour 7

Grafton Ghosts d Sawtell Panthers 40-38

Macksville Sea Eagles d South Grafton Rebels 54-44

Woolgoolga Seahorses d Orara Valley Axemen 42-12

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