Orara Valley beats Panthers in Sevens
ORARA Valley took the first step toward defending their Group 2 championship with victory in the feature Sevens competition.
The Axemen saved their best for last after entering the final against favourites Sawtell with two draws and just one try scored in the qualifiers.
But a slow start by the Panthers allowed Orara to set up an early winning margin and survive a late comeback to win 24-22.
Premier coach Darryl Fisher was beaming after the victory, knowing the forced rebuilding of his backline is coming together nicely.
“We didn't have one of the backs from the grand final here today and still went all right, so it's promising,” he said.
Orara gave fans their first look at English imports Chris Shears and Will Gregson and both former London Skolars indicated they are up to the high standard set last season by countryman Mike Castle. Runners-up Sawtell look certain to have an awesome and gifted line-up of talent at the disposal of new coach Rohan Louden.
Meanwhile, the Coffs Comets sat out the Sevens but they finished the weekend as the most talked-about club after securing the two most prized signatures in local rugby league, talking Brett Davis and Matt Donovan out of retirement.
Prelims: Woolgoolga 4 Orara Valley 4. Sawtell 12 Bellingen 10. Sawtell 18 Woolgoolga 4. Orara Valley 0 Bellingen 0. Final: Orara Valley def Sawtell 24-22.