Caleb Tauamiti of the Nambucca Heads Roosters is tackled by Sawtell Panthers playmaker Lachlan Miller.
Caleb Tauamiti of the Nambucca Heads Roosters is tackled by Sawtell Panthers playmaker Lachlan Miller. Brad Greenshields

Panthers produce a character building win

IT still was a long way short of a great performance by Sawtell but thanks to a fast start it held on for a tough win against Nambucca Heads.

Almost before supporters had settled down to enjoy the clash at Rex Hardaker Oval, the Panthers raced out to a 16-0 lead thanks to a double by winger Chris Watkins.

Instead of tossing up their toes though, Nambucca Heads rolled up their sleeves and hit back.

A try to Zac Johnson followed by another two to fullback Brogan Melrose saw the Roosters reduce the margin to only two points at the break and a try by Sone Finua shortly after the resumption gave Nambucca Heads a 20-16 lead.

At this point Sawtell's leaders stood up to be counted with coach Matt Wakefield and playmaker Lachlan Miller crossing the try line to regain the lead.

For Wakefield, he said the up-and-down nature of the Panthers' 34-24 win could easily be summed up.

"It showed when we hold the ball we score points. Then we got back into our old ways and we kept dropping the ball and consequently it brought them (Nambucca Heads) back into the game," Wakefield said.

One positive the coach was thrilled with was how the Panthers reacted after losing the lead.

"The boys showed a lot of character to come back and win," he said.

Nambucca Heads co-coach Matt Field said having the bye the week before Easter didn't provide the best preparation for the physical clash.

"Having three weeks off definitely hurt us. That first 15 to 20 we were very flat and it took us a while to find our feet," Field said.

"It was up tempo game, they (Sawtell) are a pretty physical side and it was played in the forwards but I just think that three weeks off was a factor."

Field said fatigue combined with frustration and a lack of discipline at times proved costly but he's sure the Roosters will be firing at the business end of the season.

"We'll just keep working away. You don't win the comp in the first four weeks," he said.

SAWTELL 34 (Chris Watkins 2, Matt Wakefield, Tom Sanders, Lachlan Miller, Warren Jarrett tries; Miller 5 goals) def NAMBUCCA HEADS 24 (Brogan Melrose 2, James Weimer, Zac Johnson, Sone Finua tries; Melrose 2 goals).

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