SECOND CHANCE: A Sawtell player is tackled by South Grafton opponents during last week’s Under-18s preliminary final at Coffs Harbour. PHOTO: DEBRAH NOVAK
SECOND CHANCE: A Sawtell player is tackled by South Grafton opponents during last week’s Under-18s preliminary final at Coffs Harbour. PHOTO: DEBRAH NOVAK

Historic first encounter in Under-18s rugby league final

SAWTELL Panthers and Coffs Harbour Comets will face off in a Group 2 grand final for the first time ever when the Under-18s kick off at 11.30am on Sunday.

"Sawtell and Coffs Harbour have never met in Group 2 grand final history," Cunningham said.

"I found that quite astounding. Both are strong clubs who always seem to have one team or another in a grand final."

For Sawtell it represents a chance to make amends for last year's defeat to South Grafton Rebels.

Interestingly, however, only three players from that side remain for the team to take on Coffs Harbour Comets on this occasion.

"They're all first year under-18s," president Mick Cunningham said.

"They've come straight out of the team who won the under-16s comp last year. For such a young team it's a great achievement."

The side has retained the same coaching staff, however, in coach Troy Robinson and manager Alec Cullen.

Cunningham described Sawtell's reserve grade side to tackle Grafton Ghosts as "a bunch of mates".

"They have all grown up together. Coach Josh Lewis is a local junior who came through the ranks and is a great clubman."

Meanwhile, there is no doubting where the club's allegiances will lie in first grade between South Grafton and Coffs Harbour.

"We want South Grafton to win by 60 points," Cunningham said.

"We really do. We don't care who is in it against Coffs Harbour, as long as Coffs Harbour don't win.

"Like Grafton and South Grafton, there is a major rivalry between Sawtell and North Sawtell."



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