Ax­e­men win the grind

Orara Val­ley for­wards on top in bat­tle

The Coffs Coast Advocate - - FIND A - BRAD GREEN­SHIELDS­shields@coff­s­coas­tad­vo­

ORARA Val­ley has drawn first blood over fierce ri­val Coffs Har­bour in the bat­tle for the Ken Orr Me­mo­rial Shield.

The Ax­e­men were too strong for Coffs Har­bour, win­ning 29-24 on the back of a strong per­for­mance by Orara’s young for­wards.

Com­ing up against a big rep­u­ta­tion pack, the young Ax­e­men rolled up their sleeves to make good yards and stop the op­po­si­tion from lay­ing a plat­form their dan­ger­ous backs could play off.

Coffs Har­bour coach Bran­don Costin said his for­wards had to ac­cept some re­spon­si­bil­ity for the loss af­ter having their colours low­ered by the Ax­e­men.

“And the same thing hap­pened against Sawtell,” Costin lamented.

“If you asked me where our strength is, I’d say it’s in our for­wards and maybe I need to re-look at who’s in that pack be­cause it’s just not hap­pen­ing.

“We didn’t lay a plat­form. We didn’t even touch the ball in that first 10 to 15 min­utes.”

Mean­while the North Coast un­der-23 rep­re­sen­ta­tive team is through to the semi-fi­nals of the Coun­try Cham­pi­onships.

Made up of Group 2 and Group 3 play­ers, the North Coast team proved far too strong for CRL New­cas­tle.

While Port City full­back Owen Blair scored a hat-trick in the con­vinc­ing 44-16 win, Group 2 play­ers Zac John­son (Nam­bucca Heads), Joe McKay (Macksville) and Orara Val­ley pair Luke Beau­mont and Michael Hart also scored.

The semi-fi­nal is be­ing played on Satur­day at Sawtell against North­ern Rivers.

Photo: Brad Green­shields

NONE SHALL PASS: Coffs Har­bour prop Matt Cheese­man is stopped in his tracks by the Orara Val­ley for­wards dur­ing the first bat­tle of 2018 for the Ken Orr Me­mo­rial Shield.

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