KEY FIGURE: Michael Hart always pulls out a big effort against the Sea Eagles.
KEY FIGURE: Michael Hart always pulls out a big effort against the Sea Eagles. File photo

Axemen to meet their destiny

YOUTH and raw skills will be a factor when Orara Valley hosts Macksville in today's elimination semi final with Buddy Hart and Liam Dunn two of those the visitors will need to keep under notice.

Coach Colin Speed agrees being beaten by a big score as the Axemen were by Coffs Harbour last Sunday leaves some scars and it's difficult to reorganise in six days.

"Because it was so physical there were some sore boys at training on Tuesday night but I believe we have recovered and the experience will do a lot of good,” he said.

"With so many younger blokes they have to process the things they learned which is all part of playing in semi finals.

"One of those mentioned, Buddy Hart, is a terrific player and he's learning what he can do as an individual and what he has to do as a team leader.

"When to do the long punt or the chip and chase, or just be the ball distributor and thinker.

"With Liam, he can be a dominant influence at his best and isn't a bad bloke to have in the side for goal kicking as well.”

Centre Ryan Gill was suspended after being sent off last Sunday so Speed will need to re-jig his backline.

He'll need somebody special to keep Macksville's veteran strategist Cameron Blair under wraps and that duty may fall to another esteemed elder statesman of rugby league, Troy Robinson.

"Robbo is loving his footy at the moment and has a special place in the game with the young blokes all looking up to him.”

With both top grades involved, another factor is the army of support the Sea Eagles will bring to the ground and what game plan their coach Gary Jarrett - one of the greatest footy 'brains' the local game has produced - has up his sleeve.

Coffs Harbour visit Grafton chasing hosting rights for the grand final.

While coaches rarely change a winning formula, head Comet Brandon Costin will settle on two new wingers after injuries suffered at Coramba.