Mitch Picker was a handful all day terrorising the Sawtell defense.
Mitch Picker was a handful all day terrorising the Sawtell defense. Leigh Jensen

Roosters make it six straight

DESPITE a frenetic final five minutes Nambucca Heads has held onto a 28-24 victory over a fast finishing Sawtell at Coronation Park.

The Roosters were lucky to escape with a win after Sawtell bombed three clear chances to claim a match winning try in the dying minutes of the match.

A grinding first half transformed into a shootout after the break with both sides desperate for points.

The win gives the roosters its sixth consecutive win of the season and maintains not only its unbeaten streak but its place at the top of the Carlton Mid Group 2 table.

Nambucca Heads coach Garren Stig believed his players returned to the field after halftime determined to put their mark on the game.

"The boys knew exactly what they had to do and in the opening 15 minutes of that second half put it all together," Stig said.

"I had noticed Sawtell were getting a bit loose around the markers towards the dying stages of the first half so I told the boys to speed up the play the ball which worked out really well for us.

"It was a really gutsy effort from everyone and the sort of tough match I felt we needed."

With a 28-12 lead after three tries in the opening 15 minutes of the first half  it looked as if the roosters had the game all but wrapped up, Stig wasn't as confident.

"I always knew Sawtell would come home strong and I kept telling my players to maintain composure," he said.

"After the Panthers managed to get within 10 points with less than ten minutes to go I started I realized we would be in for a tight finish

  "The boys found a way to hang onto the lead which was great to see.

"It was a disrupted week at training this week so to win such a hard fought battle its testament to the players."

Although clearly dominating the final exchanges of the match poor ball handling killed any chance of a come from behind victory for the Panthers.

Co-captain coach Damien Irvine admitted his side missed a golden opportunity to topple the competition leaders but still praised the way his players fought back from a 18 point deficit.

"The boys dug really deep today and although our ball control wasn't the best we really gave them a run for their money," Irvine said.

"We always knew that if we got a fair share of the ball towards the end of the half we would be a bit fitter and come home strongly.

"We made some fundamental errors when we had the game in our hands which lost it for us.

"In saying that I am extremely proud of all my boys they showed great resilience to stick with it for the full 80 minutes."

With the injury bug hitting the panthers during the week, Irvine and fellow co captain coach Eddie Harrison had to make some big selection decisions for the match.

We are short on players at the moment so we were forced to name a few blokes who played injured," he said.

"Adam Loudon did well to play at all as did Danny Russell but it is the sort of effort and commitment everyone in the squad has been making. "

 "Suhkpal Mahli was another player who took a knock early and was unable to finish the game, hopefully his injury isn't serious and he will be able to line up for us next week."

Jarrod Saul was a surprise packet for Nambucca Heads coming off the bench to score two tries while Dion Marr was as dangerous through the middle.

NAMBUCCA HEADS 28  (J Saul 2 K Welsh G Coleman A Budd  tries M Ronan 5 goals) bt SAWTELL 24 (J Fogarty J Lewis T Robinson N English tries N Davies 4 goals)

Scrums: Nambucca Heads 9-8.

Penalties: Sawtell 8-4.

Errors: Nambucca Heads 7, Sawtell 11.

Referee: Kirk Taylor

At Coronation Park, Nambucca Heads

Reserves: Sawtell bt Nambucca Heads 34-24

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