DON'T ARGUE: Sawtell prop Asalemo Usumanu fends off Woolgoolga's halfback Joel Collinson. Photo: Brad Greenshields/Coffs Coast Advocate Group 2 rugby league 4 June 2017 Woolgoolga Sportsground
DON'T ARGUE: Sawtell prop Asalemo Usumanu fends off Woolgoolga's halfback Joel Collinson. Photo: Brad Greenshields/Coffs Coast Advocate Group 2 rugby league 4 June 2017 Woolgoolga Sportsground Brad Greenshields

Panthers prowling for respect

SAWTELL sits comfortably inside Group 2's top five with a semi final berth almost assured but nobody is discuss them as a genuine title contender.

The Panthers collected another two points without any fanfare producing a strong second half to overcome Woolgoolga 36-20 but still the talk is about Grafton Ghosts as the competition pacesetter and whether or not it's Coffs Harbour or South Grafton that will meet them in the grand final.

It's not an issue for Sawtell's playing-coach Matt Wakefield.

In fact he believes not being a part of the discussion at the moment gives his team something to strive for in the second half of the season.

"What people don't realise is we're a young side. We've got about seven blokes that just out of the 18s playing in the team and they're turning up week in, week out putting in 100 per cent," Wakefield said.

"They're only going to get better during the year.

"At the back end of the year, maybe at semi final time, you never know."

Sawtell went to the sheds leading by only two points but scored three unanswered tries through Tim Smith, Jacob Conlan and Wakefield who scored a double after switching from his usual spot in the back row to five-eighth.

Fullback Chris Watkins was given a spell in the sinbin for a professional foul after a Seahorses line break and Woolgolga took advantage of the numerical advantage to cross the line twice and reduce the margin to 10 points with six minutes remaining, giving hope to a miracle comeback.

Those hopes were dashed by man of the match Locky Miller.

The Panthers half set up to take a field goal that would wipe valuable time off the clock waiting for the restart but when the option was closed down, Miller spotted a gap behind the advancing defence and ran through a gap before carrying a couple of opponents over the line to seal the match.

"He's got X-factor written all over him. With him in the team you're a chance of winning every game," Wakefield said of Miller.

For Woolgoolga it was another strong first half performance that went without reward.

Inexperience again proved the undoing of  team that rolled its sleeves up in defence for the full 80 minutes but was unable to turn good field position into much needed points.

SAWTELL PANTHERS 36 (Matt Wakefield 2, Luke Serevi, Tim Smith, Jacob Conlan, Locky Miller tries; Miller 6 goals) def WOOLGOOLGA SEAHORSES 20 (Brad Collinson, Clark Webb, Michael Curnow, Kewa Kili tries; Izack Smidt 2 goals).

South Grafton drew with Coffs Harbour 28-all

Grafton Ghosts def Nambucca Heads 34-16 



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