Sawtell close to perfection

FOOTBALL teams are never perfect but Sawtell went close to achieving the feat when they disposed of Coffs Harbour 48-10 in the Group 2 minor semi-final at Rex Hardaker Oval on Saturday.

All the early signs indicated that Saturday was going to be the Panthers' day.

They raced to a 28-0 lead in the opening half and continued to pile on the points in the second term, finishing with nine tries to two.

From go to whoa, the clinical professionalism of the home side provided few opportunities for the Comets to impress.

Sawtell made just two unforced errors in the first half and not a single blemish after changing ends, forcing winning coach Rohan Loudon to admit his men were better at the back end than at the beginning.

“Defence is our strength and if we're not on in that department (at the start), we're not on for the day,” he said.

“I knew we turned the corner last week and to see us getting better the longer the game lasted, it's a good sign for here on in.”

Coffs coach Warren Gilkinson was bitterly disappointed the Comets season had ended so dismally but had an inkling before the opening whistle what fate lay in store.

“My blokes came here without football on their minds,” he said with a growl.

“When they should have been getting ready we had to chase up blokes watching reserve grade and when they got in the shed, all they wanted to talk about was sheilas and going out at night.

“They couldn't handle coming back from the wrong side of the penalty count in the first 15 minutes and weren't focused enough, which meant we were never in the race,” Gilkinson said.

Former New Zealand Test representative Richard Villasanti had a powerhouse game for the Panthers but their secret weapon was young dummy half Nick English who got the side going forward with fast scoots off the line and a couple of significant ball-and-all hits in defence.

“The only worry I have is the ruck area,” Loudon said.

“If we get that as quick as I know we can, then the other blokes had better watch out as we'll be very hard to beat. We can still improve 30-40% on today's effort.”

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