Crippled Coast make coach proud

GALLANT North Coast Division bowed out of the CRL Country Championships after going down 38-18 to defending titleholders Newcastle at Allen Gillett Oval on Saturday.

When the Coast lost hooker Joe Cudmore with a broken jaw in the fourth minute, the side could easily have compounded.

Instead, they lifted their intensity and shocked the visitors with the ferocity of their intentions, which only wilted when a lapse in concentration allowed Newcastle to seize a narrow lead in the shadows of the half-time break.

"The boys made me proud the way they stood up to the other blokes," captain-coach Craig Wallace said.

"Newcastle plays at the peak level every week and it's to our credit we stayed with them for so long."

When Newcastle scored quickly after the resumption, the Coast were forced into playing catch-up football.

And many of the locals had given so much in the opening period ? back-rowers Daniel Dumas and Matt Shipway in particular ? there was little petrol left in the tank when the match entered the twilight zone.

By the time playmaker Troy Hilder was forced to the bench, Wallace was down to just one reserve player.

"That's two weeks in a row injury has robbed us of fresh legs and our handling dropped away noticeably toward the end," he said.

"The boys gave everything and they can hold their heads up for the great effort against a team with a bit more speed and fitness."

NEWCASTLE 38 (Willie Poleo, Dean Amos, Blake Mueller, Warwick Colley, Michael Fortier, Adrian McNab, Jii Hill tries; Amos 5 goals) def NORTH COAST 18 (Nathan Davies, David Pickvance, Paul Wallace tries; Nathan Berry 3 goals).

NORTH Coast under-18s will play Riverina in the final of the CRL Country Championships after edging out Northern Rivers 27-26 in incredible circumstances on the weekend.

With 15 minutes remaining and leading by 16 points, the Coast looked to have the match wrapped up.

But a defensive collapse allowed Rivers to draw level 26-all with minutes remaining and the match looked headed for extra time.

Enter Mal Webster Jr, the tiny magician from the Mustangs who, with assistance from Edgar Cowell and Todd Bridge, methodically dragged play to the front of the opposition posts for one last throw of the dice.

With the bell ringing behind him, Webster nonchalantly slotted the field goal before calmly walking off the field.

"I can't believe it," shell-shocked coach Peter Barrett said.

"I've never seen anything like that before, they gave me heart failure."

NORTH COAST 27 (Edgar Cowell, Joe Latham, Mal Webster Jr, Tyrone Ussher-Kinnear, Kevin Gordon tries; Cowell 2, Daniel Benson goals; Webster Jr field goal) def NORTHERN RIVERS 26 (Matt O'Reilley 2, Daniel Bligh, Cameron Gibson, Matt Hundy tries; Andrew Battese 3 goals).

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