FORWARD power wins big matches and Coffs Rugby's 850kg pack was instrumental in today's 44-13 victory over Southern Cross University at Advocate (Comets) Park.
The winning margin would have been greater had points scoring machine Kris Kent improved on his two conversions from eight attempts but for winning coach Geoff Mould, the 8-1 try ratio was indicative of the match.
Three of those crossings were made by 'comeback king' Mika Kama who proved unstoppable in the No.8 jersey.
"Talking about individuals, Mika was sensational and he is playing as well as he did when I was here 11 years ago," Mould remarked.
"Nothing's changed and he's tremendous.
"To have Mika at the back of the pack with Paul Butcher and Craig Landrigan is sensational and we're very lucky to have forwards of their standard to put on the field."
The strange thing is that circumstances determined the Coffs forwards only found a clear passage for around a third of the game, mostly in the latter stages.
In attack, SCU was dynamite and the extraordinary combination of fly half Anthony Donovan, winger Ryan Trembath and fullback Josh Rayner is destined to become an unholy trinity for rivals to contain.
Defying the muddy ground, the Marlins spent most of the first half running their bigger rivals around and it caused awful problems for the premiers, to the delight of coach Dave Nicol.
"For much of the time our backs were all over them and Mouldy agrees with me," he said.
"We scrambled hard all the way but trying to handle big Mika was too much to ask.
"If we'd been able to take him out, we were in with a real chance of winning the game."
From the first collision of bodies, the Marlins showed their game plan would be unorthodox rugby.
Prop Daniel Wilson sat Craig Landrigan on his backside, Donovan seized the ball and sent it wide to Rayner who cruised through a gap for the first of many line breaks.
But Coffs kept sending them back to the red zone with a brilliant kicking game.
The first try was textbook stuff.
Jono Jones picked a ball up 30 metres from the SCU line and gave Matt Spence a clear run to the corner.
Coffs scored again but Marlins hit back with the razzle dazzle and caught opposing custodian Dylan Hurley isolated with two men charging at him and no way to stop the line being crossed.
Not far from the break, Coffs walked a scrum into the SCU in-goal and Kama fell on the ball as it came loose to make it 17-7 while both teams sucked on oranges.
Coming back, the game bogged right down and for an excruciating period there was more interest in watching the Supermoon rising on the eastern side of the field than in the rugby on offer.
An epidemic of stoppages through injuries and penalties slowed play to snail's pace, compounded by claims from sideline eyes that referee Michael Tonks wasn't doing enough to keep the ruck clear.
SCU clawed back the margin with a penalty but once Coffs turned on that forward power, the result was as good as in the bag.
To prove his dominance, Kama went across twice more to the delight of Mould and the admiration of Nicol.
"I'm proud-as with my blokes and I couldn't ask for any more than they did," Nicol said.
"Maybe if we can find a couple of big boppers to go with what we've got it would make all the difference.
"Anyway, I'm still looking."
While the season still has a long way to run, Mould must know already his big men up front deliver an undeniable chance of a successful premiership defence but pinning him down to admit it isn't easy.
"Fundamentally we have a very strong scrum and that will put opponents under pressure," he said.
"Our backs still need a lot of work but to be fair, we haven't really trained too much for that.
"Today was a lot of fun but I'd like to see more than scrum domination ... and you know how much I like running rugby."
For a first meeting between the clubs, there was a lot to like and the big crowd yelled their enthusiastic appreciation.
Next Saturday, Coffs Rugby host Kempsey at Coffs Coast Advocate Rugby Park (Toormina Sport and Rec) while the Marlins go on the road to South West Rocks.
COFFS RUGBY 44 (M Kama 3 M Spence P Butcher L Devery A Keene W Yava tries K Kent 2 conversions) bt SOUTHERN CROSS UNIVERSITY MARLINS 13 (A Donovan try A Donovan conversion J Rayner 2 penalties)
Second grade: Coffs Harbour bt SCU 62-7
Under 18s: Coffs Harbour bt SCU 19-17