Gutsy Marlins beaten by Vikings
THIS sensational debut season has ended for Southern Cross University.
The Marlins went out with all guns blazing in the Mid North Coast Rugby minor semi final at Oxley Oval today.
Hastings Valley won 25-12 in the final episode of what has been an extraordinary series of personal duels between the sides which have enlivened the winter and sent local interest in the fifteen-a-side code soaring.
Coach Dave Nicol wishes the fairytale ending had come to fruition but wasn't lamenting a year that has created so much promise for the future stability of the zone.
"We had our chances to win and were right in the match at vital stages but didn't play as smart at the end as we did at the beginning," he said.
"Honestly, it was a battle of really big men who are experienced in rugby against our little blokes who are very willing but still making their way.
"If their bodies matched the size of their hearts, Marlins would never be beaten."
In a first half battle of attrition, both teams scored unconverted tries to be level 5-5 as half time neared.
One slip opened the door to the Vikings who crossed on the bell to lead 10-5 but Nicol said it didn't mean his men were out of contention.
"It just made it a bit harder for us, that's all," he said.
"And we really had a crack.
"Everything Vikings got they had to work for but in the back of my mind, I always knew it would catch up.
"They pulled out some rolling mauls and had our scrum going backwards at a hundred miles an hour.
"Eventually something had to give."
Vikings scored their last try on the final play when SCU blundered in a line-out and coach David Tunstead sized possession to crash over.
"If we can find a couple of big boppers in the off season, it will make all the difference for 2013," Nicol added.
"It's been a fantastic season and I've loved the thrill of coaching these lads."
HASTINGS VALLEY VIKINGS 25 (J Edwards 2 D Sprague B Purcell D Tunstead tries) bt SOUTHERN CROSS UNIVERSITY MARLINS 12 (L Reeves R Trembath tries S Donald conversion)
At Oxley Oval, Port Macquarie
Referee: Michael Tonks
Second grade: Port Macquarie bt Kempsey Cannonballs 34-3
Under 18s: Coffs Harbour bt SCU 33-17
Next weekend's preliminary finals at Stuart Park, Port Macquarie
First grade: Port Macquarie Pirates v Hastings Valley Vikings
Second grade: Hastings Valley v Port Macquarie
Under 18s: Kempsey Cannonballs v Coffs Harbour