A NEW force is stirring in Mid North Coast Rugby.
Southern Cross University broke through for a maiden victory today at just the second match since entering the first grade competition after that narrow three point loss at the first attempt last weekend.
Playing on a foreign field at Crescent Head, the Marlins downed Kempsey Cannonballs 24-12 to the delight of coach Dave Nicol and a growing army of diehard supporters.
Nicol said the seeds of victory were planted earlier in the day.
"We took 25 blokes down there to play reserve grade and after trailing 17-0 at the break, the boys came back to force a 17-all draw," he said.
"It was an inspiring effort and the first grade side watched that and were right up for a big effort when their game arrived."
But the start of the main event wasn't exactly what the coach desired.
Cannonballs scored first from an intercept and the Marlins found themselves trailing 0-7 after 10 minutes.
"The forwards got stuck right in which was helped a bit by the conditions," Nicol said.
"The ground was wet without being too muddy and while there was a fair bit of dropped ball the blokes up front stuck their heads down and toughed it out.
"Hooker Ethan McDonough had a blinder and front-rower Matt Potts played just about every minute of the match which is an awesome effort the way the game is played now.
"They had great service from BJ Francis and Cam Smith working off them until gradually we got on top."
The coach paid credit to the defensive effort of the pack which allowed the backs to look smart with the scoring.
Josh Rayner provided both tries while Simon Donald chimed in with four penalties and a conversion.
"They really wanted to win today," Nicol said proudly.
"They believe in themselves and while my job now is to make sure the boys keep heads out of the clouds and hold a grip on reality, we can go on with the job and secure our future.
"This club is here for the long haul and getting that first win on the board is really sweet."
SCU next week head south to take on Port Macquarie Pirates.
Meanwhile, today's match between Coffs Rugby and the Pirates was deferred when heavy overnight rain made the surface of Coffs Coast Advocate Rugby Park unplayable.