Orara Valley faces Sawtell

ORARA Valley’s patched up line-up will find out a lot about itself tomorrow when they face reigning premier Sawtell on their own turf.

Starting the season covering injuries saw the Axemen lose their opening two matches of 2010 by small margins before recording their breakthrough victory last week which coincided with the return of a couple of the team’s key members.

Orara coach Darryl Fisher has an unchanged line-up at his disposal tomorrow and he’s thankful considering the opponent that his team faces.

“They have dropped a game this year but I still think they’re probably the benchmark at this stage,” Fisher said.

“For us we lost a couple to start with and while I was fairly happy with how some of the new players were going, we’ve got a couple of guys back from injury now so, hopefully, it’s now time for us to start playing the football we’re capable of.”

The Axemen were always in control against Macleay Valley last week but failed to put the Mustangs to the sword when it was required.

This inability to keep the pedal down for the full duration is one aspect that Fisher knows has to be turned around against the Panthers.

“We played well in patches but there were still some areas of the game that I wasn’t happy with it,” he said.

“There was still probably a little lack of cohesion but after three comp games now I’m not OK with that anymore.”

Sawtell will be without the services of captain-coach Rohan Loudon who injured his knee during last week’s victory over Woolgoolga. This has meant a call-up to the number seven jersey for New Zealander Lance Wright.

While Wright adds a touch of flair to the Panthers, Loudon believes his team will need to produce plenty of football’s blue collar work if his team is to walk away with the two premiership points tomorrow.

“They’ll play a power game through the middle I think,” Loudon said.

“They’ve gott their experienced blokes ‘Tommo’ (Paul Tomlinson) in the middle so that’s where they’ll probably try and play us.

“We’ll have to be nice and tight in defence I think.”

Sawtell have made two other changes to their starting 15 from last week’s win.

Garreth Evans has been selected in the centres to replace the injured Nick McRae while Peter Norton comes onto the bench in place of Gregg Connell.

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