WHAT is with the matches between the Breakers and Crushers that see them go all the way down to the wire?
Last year’s grand final saw the Breakers defending stoutly on their line at the end to deny the Crushers a premiership.
On Friday night it was heroic defence from the Crushers at the death that ensured they walked away with the victory.
Trailing by only five points with only moments remaining Breakers captain Dylan Hurley made a line break and looked headed for a match-winning try but desperate scrambling defence from the bigger and tiring Crushers halted Hurley’s run only inches from the try line.
New Crushers’ coach Craig Landrigan said that the ability his players showed to dig deep so late in the piece was sure to prove a few of the doubters wrong.
“A lot of teams actually doubt our ability to get around the field with the bigger boys and they always expect us to puff out,” Landrigan said.
“The boys showed though that the big boys really are fit and that they can keep going for 80 minutes.”
The joy the Crushers players showed when the referee blew his whistle for full-time showed that this grand final replay meant a lot to them and Landrigan did admit that revenge for last year’s loss was particularly sweet.
“Ever since the start of Crushers and Breakers that win makes it three-all,” he said.
“Of course the big grand final counts for a bit more than one so this year we really want to get that grand final and it’s good to actually show from the first game that we’ve got the ability to do so.”
The Crushers victory was built on a dominating forward pack that controlled the scrums and often won line-outs off a Breakers’ throw.
The kicking game of fly half Leith Vaughan gave the victors plenty of good territory and it wasn’t until late in the piece that the Breakers were able to mount pressure on their rivals.
The rain that started moments before the kick-off didn’t help the cause of the Breakers.
It is no secret that the Breakers younger and fitter squad back themselves to win by getting the ball to the backs and taking a chance to run around the Crushers’ bigger bodies.
The slippery conditions didn’t allow this to happen on Friday night and it wasn’t until late in the match when the rain stopped that the Breakers were able to enjoy decent field position.
With Hurley stopped so close to finishing a come-from-behind victory he admitted that he would’ve loved to have got another one over the Crushers but he was philosophical in defeat.
“They’re a big pack and we’ve got a game plan of moving wide and moving them around but missing a front-rower didn’t really help us and every time there was a scrum they would push us back over the ball and they would get it back,” Hurley said.
“The minute we get a couple of good front rowers into our side I think the result will change and I think it will change dramatically.”
Hurley is adamant that if his boys can get a roll-on starting with next week’s clash against the Port Pirates then Friday night’s loss will be a distant memory come the end of the 2010 season.
“In the starting side we’ve only got five out of our starting 15 from the grand final last year and we’ve only had one run where we’ve had the whole team there,” he said.
“People have seen now how good we’re going to go this year and once we start getting a bit keener and start coming to training I think we’re a good shot at the comp.”
COFFS CRUSHERS 17 (Shaune Rayner, Joel Riddle tries; Dave Angus 2 conv; Angus pen. goal ) def COFFS BREAKERS 12 (Pete Shaw, Kris Kent tries; Brendan Robins conv.).
Reserve grade: Coffs Rugby def SCU Bullants 39-0.