A rusty victory

COFFS Harbour finally made it through to the Mid North Coast rugby grand final but only by the skin of their teeth.

The reigning premiers fell over the line 20-15 against Hastings Valley in Saturday's preliminary final at Park Beach Plaza Rugby Park in an effort that must rank as their worst of the year.

A performance like that when they head to Stuart Park next weekend will see them mercilessly slaughtered by Port Pirates.

For the first 20 minutes, all went well.

Coffs scored twice to lead 10-0 but for some inexplicable reason, all sense of urgency was abandoned and for the rest of the afternoon it became a matter of wondering if the side could do enough to win the game or get enough lucky breaks to avoid losing it.

Coach Paul Butcher couldn't hide his frustration as he stood grim-faced on the sideline to watch the near debacle.

"That's the closest you'll ever see to a Coffs side missing out on a grand final," he said.

"We came here today thinking it would be the lower grades who'd have the tough job getting through but they made it with flying colours.

"What we just saw was pretty ordinary."

By the time the Vikings drew level 15-all the writing was on the wall the entire season was in jeopardy.

So, who can explain why two shots at penalty goal that may have provided an important buffer, were ignored?

Instead it was a try in the north-eastern corner where claims were made the scorer put his foot into touch, which saved the season.

"I'm at a loss to explain it," Butcher said.

"Fair enough that we've made the grand final which is what we set out to do but who knows where we go from here."

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