UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL: Tomorrow's match between Sawtell and Orara Valley will be the first of four meetings between the pair in 2018.
UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL: Tomorrow's match between Sawtell and Orara Valley will be the first of four meetings between the pair in 2018. Brad Greenshields

Time for show and Saw-tell

MILITARY pilots employ a type of flying called nap-of-the-earth to ensure they're flying under the enemy's radar.

With an off season lacking in hype and hyperbole, Sawtell has been doing its own under the radar flying.

Panthers coach Rod Hardy said it's a deliberate move with good reason.

"We're not going to go out there shooting our mouth off, it's only how you play footy that counts,” Hardy said.

"There's no point parading about because if you can't back it up you'll get found out pretty quickly around here.”

Having won the past couple of under-18 premierships Hardy said a lot of the club's promising juniors will be promoted into first grade at different stages of the season adding he thinks the average age of Sawtell's first grade team this year will be about 24.

Panthers supporters are a little excited about a couple of things though.

There's the transfer from South Grafton of the Cooper brothers, Austin and Lewis.

There's also the new halves pairing of Zac O'Brien and Latrell Hampton.

O'Brien is a Panthers junior who has returned to the area after playing in Queensland while Hampton has crossed from Werris Creek.

Visiting Sawtell will be Orara Valley which has received plenty of publicity over the summer for its recruiting coups.

The Axemen will boast a new look line-up at Rex Hardaker Oval tomorrow as they unveil big name recruits Luke Beaumont, Rhys Walters, AJ Gilbert and new halves pairing Vinnie Williams and Buddy Hart.

Orara coach Col Speed said he expects the Axemen to be hard to score against in 2018.

"Defence has probably been our key through the trials, we've worked very hard on that,” Speed said.

After falling one week short of the grand final for the past two years, Coffs Harbour has been working hard over summer to extend their 2018 season all the way to the end of the season.

New Comets coach Brandon Costin said his team will be missing five or six players against Nambucca Heads tomorrow but he thinks thing have been going really well in the lead-up to the season opener.

"I think we've still got a pretty strong team so hopefully we can get things pumping,” he said.

Costin said there's nothing like the anticipation of the first game of the season and tomorrow's match at Geoff King Motors Park should be a great release for his team.

"We've had a dozen blokes training every night since December,” Costin said.

"Trial games are trial games but the start of the competition should bring out the excitement in them.”

GROUP 2

Sunday

2.30pm: Sawtell v Orara Valley

2.45pm: Coffs Harbour v Nambucca Heads

2.45pm: South Grafton v Grafton



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