Panthers' experience and expertise keeps scorers occupied
EXPERIENCE played a vital part when Sawtell downed Orara Valley 52-22 as showers swept Rex Hardaker Oval.
With captain-coach Brandon Costin sidelined for most of the second half, top Panthers Nathan Davies, Cameron Blair and Troy Robinson were a steadying influence whenever attention spans wavered and the Axemen tried to get something happening.
Davies finished with three tries for the match but "sacked" himself after missing the first three shots at goal.
"It's sudden death if you miss one here as there's always somebody else to take over," Davies said.
A prolific scorer for more than a decade, it's a little know fact the classy centre has never played any other grade than first grade.
"I had half a game in reserves in Mudgee years ago but that's all.
"I'm still enthusiastic and love the game.
"Love scoring tries, too.
"The girls have all the records but I think I'm five tries in front of how many games I've played for Sawtell and that's around 170 or so."
When Davies handed over kicking duties, Robinson was successful with his only attempt before handing on to Blair.
The journeyman playmaker has scored hundreds of points from Macksville and Bellingen but loves the feeling at Rex Hardaker Oval.
"Costo (coach Brandon Costin) wants a bit of structure and us blokes can give that when he's off the field," Blair said.
"We had the leadership late in the game when we went to sleep a bit but the boys got really fired up and finished stronger."
Orara played enthusiastically in spasms and looked good when giving the ball plenty of air.
However, there's still the tendency to wait until captain-coach Bert Gray takes the ball in hand to get play moving and until they get much fitter and find more team leaders confident enough to call the shots, 2014 will be nothing more than a "learning" experience.
SAWTELL PANTHERS 52 (Nathan Davies 3, Brandon Costin, Dion Delevante, Troy Robinson, James Sanders, Zac Johnson, Tyler Jones, Cameron Blair, Steve Lewis tries; Cameron Blair 5, Troy Robinson goals) def ORARA VALLEY AXEMEN 22 (Alex Peacock, Bill Buckley, Bert Gray, Tyler Jones tries; Alex Peacock 3 goals)
Scrums: Orara Valley 9-8
Penalties: Orara Valley 7-6
Errors: Orara Valley 13, Sawtell 7
At Rex Hardaker Oval, Toormina
Referee: Deon Aldridge
Coffs Harbour Comets d South Grafton Rebels 34-22 *
Grafton Ghosts d Bellinger Valley-Dorrigo Magpies 34-4
Woolgoolga Seahorses d Macksville Sea Eagles 40-34
Coffs Harbour d South Grafton Rebels 34-16
Grafton d Bellingen 48-10
Woolgoolga d Macksville 32-14
Sawtell d Orara Valley 32-14
South Grafton d Coffs Harbour 26-4
Bellingen d Grafton 20-6
Macksville d Woolgoolga 28-22
* final result to be confirmed