Coffs Rugby revival goes close to upsetting unbeaten Vikings
HAS COFFS Harbour finally turned the corner despite going down to Hastings Valley 15-0 in greasy conditions at Jung Quarries Rugby Park?
The answer will be delivered on June 6 when Vikings host a visit from the Snappers at Oxley Oval but if one thing can be said about this latest meeting, the premiers took off for home knowing they'd been in a battle.
Hastings scored the first try 72 seconds into the game and even coach Rob Waddy admitted later he felt his lads were in for one of those days.
Another try midway through the first half delivered a 10-0 lead going to the break but the signs were there already that Coffs were in a totally different frame of mind to a couple of their outings from the recent past.
The second half confirmed it with the Snappers turning on arguably their best 40 minutes of rugby in ... well, the coach thought at least two years.
"Very shaky start with that try and I was thinking 'here we go again' but if Hastings felt this was going to be easy and they'd simply roll over us, they got a big surprise," Waddy said.
"Overall, I thought we played outstandingly well.
"We've only got a young team with some still in their teens but in the second half our front row took Vikings on and drove them backwards."
For one beautiful 15 minute period - it felt like hours - Coffs pinned Hastings on their try line and delivered a complete mugging in defence.
"Matt Schultz was simply awesome," Waddy said.
"Craig Landrigan just kept coming at them and they'll be looking over their shoulders when we go down there in two weeks."
Three factors helped Vikings win the match.
Firstly, the ability to recover and strike back quickly when something went awry.
Then there was the touch of inexperience in the home side that saw a try botched through too much excitement, and a punt put over the top when the kicker had two men unmarked outside him and the only thing in green and gold colours in front were the daffodils growing alongside the tractor shed.
Those two tries, had they been scored, wouldn't have delivered victory but would have left the visiting outfit smarting just a tad more.
Finally, on one of the few occasions Vikings made it into opposition territory in that half, big David Tunstead barged his way across to put a margin up that was a bridge too far with time running down.
"We have more improvement to do and their rep players will be back next time," Waddy added.
"So I'm really excited again and can't wait for the day to come.
"The boys are the same and know that even though we didn't win, a bit of self belief and a big work ethic makes a world of difference."
Upper MNC Rugby
Hastings Valley Vikings d Coffs Harbour Snappers 15-0
Port Macquarie Pirates d Kempsey Cannonballs 23-22
Southern Cross University Marlins bye
Hastings Valley d Coffs Harbour 26-5
Kempsey d Port Macquarie 20-7
Woolgoolga White Pointers d Bowraville Goannas 14-5
SCU d Dorrigo Rangers 12-5
Coffs Harbour d Hastings Valley on forfeit
Port Macquarie d Kempsey 36-7
SCU d Bowraville 24-7
Coffs Harbour d Hastings Valley 57-0
Port Macquarie d Kempsey 50-5
SCU d Dorrigo 43-14