Comets push right buttons on way to thrashing Seahorses
IDENTIFYING vulnerabilities in the opposing side and tormenting them for it is a key to rugby league success.
Coffs Harbour found the bugs in Woolgoolga's system in the first-ever Dawes-Harvey Cup match at Geoff King Motors Oval and ran away at the end for a startling 62-22 win.
For the first session, three team changes left the Seahorses with a defensive weakness on the right hand edge and Coffs coach Colin Speed drilled into his men to hit the scoreboard corner as often as possible.
Four tries were the result.
In the second half, close quarter defence distracted the visitors and the instruction was for quick play-the-balls and big hits up the middle.
As a result, Woolgoolga's centre fractured in a way that was never expected and in the end, the size of the win was more of a shock than who eventually got two competition points.
"First time for a while we stuck to a structure and totally capitalised," coach Speed said.
"We made a couple of positional changes that took a while to click.
"Once they started to gel, we did very well."
Apart from the fringe problem, the Seahorses were well in the game for 45 minutes.
Their midfield defence and scrambling worked fine and the tries they scored were as soft as those registered by the Comets.
However, failure to ignore the occasional bait to get involved in a scrap - and a few they started themselves - cost them deeply.
With concentration waning, the holes opened up and still sidelined Woopi coach Steven Spencer was seen with his head in his hands on numerous occasions.
"We matched Coffs for a long, long way, despite them working out early our right hand problem," he said.
"The second half was run by Coffs and there seems to be a trend.
"Full credit, they got away with the win but I'll take nothing away from my boys."
Post-match, Speed was more effervescent than normal as he knows his train is now on a similar track to the one that arrived at the premiership station in 2013.
Spencer won't engage in wholesale sackings on the strength of one poor second half performance.
Still, he's got a bit of work to do and believes it will be different story next Sunday when Bellingen come to pay a visit.
COFFS HARBOUR COMETS 62 (Josh Clift 2, Dennis Gordon 2, Abel Lefaoseu 2, Scott Street 2, Peter Irwin, Jacob Van Hammond, Blair Blanchette tries; Nathan Curry 8, Blair Blanchette goals) def WOOLGOOLGA SEAHORSES 22 (Ayden Baloh, Dean Janda, Les Poulava, Aleki Fangupo tries; Fred Robinson 3 goals)
Scrums: Woolgoolga 12-5
Penalties: Woolgoolga 8-6
Errors: Woolgoolga 14, Coffs Harbour 7
At Geoff King Motors Oval, Coffs Harbour
Referee: Deon Aldridge
South Grafton Rebels d Bellinger Valley-Dorrigo Magpies 34-28
Grafton Ghosts d Orara Valley Axemen 84-0
Macksville Sea Eagles d Sawtell Panthers 44-34
Coffs Harbour d Woolgoolga 40-18
South Grafton d Bellingen 30-24
Grafton d Orara Valley 64-6
Sawtell d Macksville 34-24
Woolgoolga d Coffs Harbour 27-12
Bellingen d South Grafton 24-16
Macksville d Sawtell 32-30