Comets seize head start in local derby with Panthers
A PERFECT beginning and a barnstorming finish were features of Coffs Harbour's 36-10 win against Sawtell in today's local derby.
And that's before factoring in the superb attacking game of teenaged custodian Luke Beaumont.
The young maan's supreme ball skills created two of winger Madison Williams' hat trick of crossings.
In the opening 25 minutes, the Comets could do no wrong and were rewarded with four close range tries against a Sawtell defence unexpectedly soft in the middle and indecisive when coming off the advantage line.
In time the Panthers came to life and with Coffs going temporarily off the boil, they went over twice to make the half time score line look a more respectable 24-10.
Coffs coach Colin Speed noted the lapse in the danger period leading to the break but tried to put it into the context of the match as a whole.
"We played well at the start when we were much more positive," he said.
"But winning after getting scrappy and not playing to the best of our ability ... well, I'm happy with that.
"The thing about footy is you can't be perfect all the time.
"The good thing is these blokes will come to training next Tuesday night and stick their hands up about not playing up to their best."
The second period was more like the old style knock-'em-down and drag-it-out affairs usually associated with clashes between these two great rivals.
Sawtell's defence tightened up and they showed much more enterprise when in possession of the ball.
But as co-coach Damian Irvine pointed out, the damage had been done by allowing the Comets to stride out with four converted tries in the opening half hour.
"Because we weren't tight in defence and winning the ruck from the start, no wonder we lost," he said.
"Coffs are so fast off the mark that you have to win that play-the-ball.
"We know how they are coached and we spoke about it but in the first 20 minutes we weren't there at all."
Irvine thought his side might have been spooked by Coffs Harbour's reputation for straight, hard running close to the line and the failure to come up quick to meet them proved fatal.
"If you make a tackle you have to have to keep moving and get to the next one," he groaned.
"We didn't do that and they got a head start on us that we couldn't pull back."
Coffs scored the only points of the second half and bombed one in the corner as the full time hooter was sounding.
Sawtell, also, made some blunders with the ball but they generally looked a lot better in possession.
Without the Comets scrambling hard in their in-goal in desperation, the score may have been a little tighter.
The only dark moment was an altercation late in the game that ended with Sawtell winger Shaun Duncan sent off for alleged head-butting.
However, the Comets were better drilled despite their handful of blemishes and it's now safe to start naming them as the team all the others may have to beat to take out this year's title.
COFFS HARBOUR COMETS 36 (Maddison Williams 3, Nathan Curry, Luke Beaumont, Sean Gilmore tries; Nathan Curry 6 goals) def SAWTELL PANTHERS 10 (Sukhpal Malhi, Dean McLaughlin tries; Cameron Blair goal)
Scrums: Sawtell 11-7
Penalties: Coffs Harbour 9-8
Errors: Sawtell 12, Coffs Harbour 9
At Geoff King Motors Oval, Coffs Harbour
Referee: Nathan Grace
Reserve grade: Sawtell d Coffs Harbour 22-20
Under 18s: Sawtell bye