Seahorses sound premiership alarm with big romp over Axemen
ADD Woolgoolga to the list of Group 2 premiership contenders after a 68-16 romp over Orara Valley at Coramba.
Those predicting a two-horse race between the Ghosts and Comets should think again, especially when the Seahorses manage to get the full complement on deck and settle on final combinations.
With five-eighth Clark Webb conducting a master class against his old club, the visitors led 26-16 at the break despite the Axemen playing their brightest footy in four matches.
Scores blew out after half time when Orara skipper Chris Shears was dismissed by referee Ray Pettit for dissent, hard-working lock Aliks Davis was unable to continue and coach Bert Gray had to leave the field with a badly lacerated hand after copping a sprig.
Woolgoolga captain-coach Steven Spencer missed the match due to his broken jaw but was able to smile at the best bits of form displayed by his men.
"We've got the players I feel but still have to find confidence as a group," he said.
"Once we play as a team rather than individuals and discipline errors are gone, that's when we'll start to gel."
From the moments when Webb handled four times in the lead-up to Simione Vea's first of two tries, it was obvious a runaway train was pulling in to the Coliseum.
Webb backed off after the break and let others have a go and that's when big centre Lee-Hang came to the fore, ably assisted by back-rower Vili Ieru.
The Woolgoolga line-up - apart from captain Webb - has little resemblance to any that have played together in recent times and that's the big advantage that's been handed to coach Spencer.
He's got a blank canvas to work with, oozing with potential, and a mission to create a potent premiership force.
"We've got an abundance of back-rowers which adds to our depth," Spencer added.
"And there's heaps of speed out there."
It may surprise to read that a team beaten by 52 points showed moments of real ability.
They were the moments when veterans Gray, Shears, Paul Tomlinson and Joel Lacey were on the field together, making the side go forward so that their younger charges responded noticeably.
One nice touch was a 30-metre cut-out pass from Gray to hard-running Cameron Ballard that led to Orara's first try and while the coach is making no boastful promises, there's light somewhere at the end of a long tunnel.
"It would be stupid to say we're going to beat the best sides this year as we don't have the depth or experience," Gray said.
"Instead, these young blokes have got an opportunity to make something of themselves and get a grounding to go to the next stage in the game.
"All they have to do is hang in and they'll find ways to get better and enjoy what they are doing."
WOOLGOOLGA SEAHORSES 68 (Jack Lee-Hang 3, Vili Ieru 3, Simione Vea 2, Dean Janda, Adam Slater, Jack Mander, Alex Webb, Zac Sheppard tries; Zac Sheppard 6, Buddy Hart 2 goals) def ORARA VALLEY AXEMEN 16 (Cameron Ballard, Paul Tomlinson, Chris Shears tries; Alex Peacock 2 goals)
At Coramba Sports Ground, Coramba
Referee: Ray Pettit
Scrums: Orara Valley 11-2
Penalties: Orara Valley 7-4
Errors: Orara Valley 12, Woolgoolga 8
Macksville Sea Eagles d South Grafton Rebels 28-26
Grafton Ghosts d Sawtell Panthers 48-10
Coffs Harbour Comets d Bellinger Valley-Dorrigo Magpies 32-6
Woolgoolga d Orara Valley 22-20
Macksville d South Grafton 34-12
Grafton d Sawtell 28-16
Coffs Harbour d Bellingen 58-12
South Grafton d Macksville 34-30
Sawtell d Grafton 32-30
Coffs Harbour d Bellingen 18-16