Grand final predictions
SOME observers are already predicting an all-Coffs Harbour grand final after both local teams rolled sides above them on the premiership table at Park Beach Plaza Rugby Park on Saturday.
Coffs Breakers ran the wrecking ball through former competition leaders Kempsey with a resounding 50-12 victory but it was the 31-5 rout of premiers Port Macquarie by Coffs Crushers that really had those in the know nodding their heads with approval.
Fast and first out of the blocks, Crushers used sustained forward power to assert their authority and while there were times they appeared to lose interest in turning the screws, coach Rob Hoy had reasons for the moments of vulnerability.
“Once we established ourselves on top a bit of tiredness set in and got us away from the game plan,” he said.
Hoy was referring to his giant up-front combination of Joel Riddle, Craeg Pow and Matt Hoy who gleefully worked in tandem to demolish the Pirates front line of defence, but then found need to be rested in one job lot.
“They're a big pack, a big team on a heavy ground and making major changes at once slowed us up a bit,” Hoy said.
“Still, the job was done early with a clinical effort, they stuck to simple basics of going forward, cleaning out and using plenty of aggression.”
Part of the spectacle was the frequency of big hits in defence where players in both sides sought out an opposite number ... and crunched him.
“We had a slow start to the year and the work at training is paying off and those big hits are the proof,” Hoy added. But Hoy was guarded when asked if he felt his team was already grand final-bound.
“Some reckon that but don't underestimate the Pirates on what you saw today, we all still have to get past them,” he said.
“They had a few out and even those left could still hurt you, and it's a long way to go.”
Meanwhile, Breakers ran up the biggest total of the day against the Cannonballs but took longer than their stable mates to find a rhythm.
Stunned by Kempsey's opening try against the run of play, co-coach Nick Joyce put down lack of match practice as the reason for the slow start.
“Ordinary early but we got there in the end,” he said. “We've been rained out, lost games through the bye and whatever but the second half showed we're going upward.”
When the Breakers began to totally dominate - mainly thanks to the growing, uncanny partnership of robust forwards Tim Metcher and Paul Butcher - the star potential in the team was impossible to ignore.
“Our aim is to be aggressive and getting it right is still being worked on,” Joyce said.
COFFS RUGBY CRUSHERS 31 (Matt Hoy 2, Joel Riddle, Billy Vatavuli tries; Angus Garland 4 conversions; Craeg Pow penalty) def PORT MACQUARIE PIRATES A 5 (Billy Dietrich try).
COFFS RUGBY BREAKERS 50 (Tim Metcher 3, Paul Butcher 2, Mitch Walton, Matt Metcher, Michael Otto tries; Ben Wallace 5 conversions) def KEMPSEY CANNONBALLS 12 (Matt Hodgman, Adam Clay tries; Kale Waters conversion).
Under 19s: Coffs Rugby def Port Pirates 22-5.