Alert Ax­e­men get first win

Strong start lays ground for tri­umph

The Coffs Coast Advocate - - SPORT - BRAD GREEN­SHIELDS brad.green­shields@coff­s­coas­tad­vo­cate.com.au

AF­TER start­ing their open­ing match of the sea­son slower than the sec­ond com­ing, Orara Val­ley wasted no time hit­ting the score­board in its win over Macksville.

Four unan­swered tries in the first half, in­clud­ing a dou­ble to winger Bren­dan Down­town, paved the way for the Ax­e­men to col­lect their first two points of the sea­son with a 30-8 vic­tory.

Orara coach Col Speed ad­mit­ted a faster start was on the agenda lead­ing into the clash.

“That was our goal. We worked re­ally hard on that in our two nights that we trained,” Speed said

“The best thing is that the play­ers took own­er­ship of that. They ob­vi­ously got smashed on Tues­day with some dif­fer­ent con­di­tion­ing ball drills and it was rel­e­vant to the way they treated the ball the week be­fore.”

Speed said the most pleas­ing as­pects of the per­for­mance for him were the Ax­e­men’s de­fence and the team dis­ci­pline, par­tic­u­larly when they could have been ex­cused for be­ing dis­tracted af­ter Macksville’s Cameron Blair man­aged to some­how stay on the field af­ter floor­ing Cody Berry with a coathanger.

So much for Group 2’s edict this year to have ref­er­ees bet­ter pro­tect play­ers with a zero tol­er­ance on head-high shots.

Mean­while, if there’s some­thing strange in your neigh­bour­hood, call the Sawtell Pan­thers be­cause they’re the Ghost­busters.

Sawtell in­flicted the first de­feat on the Grafton Ghosts since the 2016 grand fi­nal with a last-minute try from for­ward Lewis Cooper to win 24-22.

The Pan­thers were su­per im­pres­sive in the first half, head­ing into the sheds with a 20-12 lead, but tries to Mitch Gor­man and Todd Cameron af­ter a long arm wres­tle put the reigning pre­mier ahead.

Photo: Brad Green­shields

ON THE BALL: Macksville’s Brad Southan is swamped by some of the hard-work­ing Orara Val­ley de­fence.

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