Last stage option may have cost SCU win over Coffs Snappers
DEPENDING on the average spectator's personal perception, Southern Cross University may have been architects of their own demise in the narrow loss to Coffs Harbour in the rugby local derby at Marlins Park.
Snappers fell across the line 26-21 after losing the way badly after the half time break.
They had been in front by 19 points and should have blitzed the opponent in the second session but went totally off the boil.
But fast forward to those crucial final moments.
Trailing by five points, Marlins spent the last eight minutes camped on the Coffs try-line, aided by a steady stream of penalties.
Coffs were penalised and when a player answered back to referee Darren Jameson, the mark moved up to the danger zone and in a perfect world, Marlins would have gone for the push over try to level and then take the conversion attempt to seal the win.
Instead, a conventional scrum saw the ball come out cleanly and ... wouldn't you know it?
A pass went to ground and the final whistle followed soon after.
Sure, there was no certainty SCU would have scored and converted and coach Dave Nicol was forgiving under the circumstances but he was less impressed by other aspects of the performance earlier in the session.
"We were better in the second half but it was the start that really worried me," he said.
"You can't drop that much ball on a ground that's not totally wet and expect to win.
"That's just bad hands and they were all like it.
"Our forwards dominated in the scrums again and while the line-outs were only so-so, it was that dropped ball that cost us severely."
As for decisions made in the last few seconds, Nicol didn't look totally impressed but wasn't ready to blow up.
"I would have pushed with the scrum but I'm not on the paddock," he said.
"Sometimes they need to make their own decisions and some are right, some are wrong."
Spoiling tactics by both sides were the reason for three yellow cards and a string of penalties that slowed momentum, especially for Snappers.
Coach Rob Waddy was happy to finish on top but admits there's plenty of work to do with the play-offs so close.
"They camped in our end after the break because we stopped doing things," he said.
"Giving away so many penalties gave Marlins a heads up but we had enough lead by half time not to be under threat.
"Without control of the ball, it was pretty disappointing for us and I'm glad we got there in the end."
Coffs Harbour d Southern Cross University 26-21
Hastings Valley d Kempsey 40-21
Port Macquarie bye
Hastings Valley d Kempsey 31-0
Coffs Harbour d SCU 7-5
Dorrigo d Bowraville 34-5
Woolgoolga d Port Macquarie 33-0 (to be confirmed)
Kempsey d Hastings Valley 54-0
SCU d Coffs Harbour 45-0
Bowraville d Port Macquarie 17-12
Kempsey d Hastings Valley 62-0
SCU d Coffs Harbour 29-17
Dorrigo d Port Macquarie 17-14
Coffs Harbour d Coffs Harbour Barbarians by forfeit
SCU d Dorrigo 32-0
Kempsey d Port Macquarie Black by forfeit
Port Macquarie Red v Hastings Valley deferred