Late try seals Hastings Valley rugby win over Coffs Snappers
BENCHMARK team Hastings Valley took a giant stride towards capturing the Upper Mid North Coast minor premiership by edging out Coffs Harbour 25-19 at TJ Jung Quarry Rugby Park.
Big David Tunstead crossed for the Vikings three minutes from full-time to put the sealer on a match that saw the home side improve dramatically on recent efforts but still make far too many errors to yet be considered a genuine force for the title.
After trading early tries, Snappers astounded their fans by ignoring a sitting duck penalty in front that would almost certainly have sent them to the break level with the visitors.
Instead, a try on the bell had them behind and while they did temporarily regain the lead soon after the resumption, that faux pas was an indication of how the simple basics of the game are hurting so badly.
As for those ongoing problems with line-outs?
"The reason there were line-outs was because we gave away far too many penalties," coach Rob Waddy admitted.
"They scored four tries off penalties around half way that put them down our end and I don't remember them running the ball successfully over half way.
"We just let them get down there."
Vikings were well-served by NSW Country half Adam McCormack, particularly his ability to kick the ball and have it land where most damage could be done to Coffs as the chasers arrived.
It showed in the final stages where Snappers were camped inside the opposition quarter and looking to rally, only to watch the ball come off McCormack's boot and land near the corner.
Three penalties and a dart away from a scrum saw Tunstead over and the game gone for the home side.
"Our discipline has to be better and we can't give so many opportunities and field position away," Waddy added.
"Saying that, the overall effort was far better than where we were a month ago and struggling.
"I think I only needed to make one change to the side this week.
"Hastings deserve to be on top of the competition but we're still only half way through and still have plenty to offer as the improvement comes."
Meanwhile, the semi final dream has ended for Southern Cross University.
The Marlins went down narrowly by five points to Kempsey, the fifth time this season the team has been beaten by a try or less.
Upper MNC Rugby
Hastings Valley Vikings d Coffs Harbour Snappers 25-19
Kempsey Cannonballs d Southern Cross University Marlins 22-17
Port Macquarie Pirates bye
Hastings and Coffs drew 7-7
Kempsey d SCU 27-26
Port d Bowraville Goannas 29-0
Kempsey d Coffs on forfeit
Port and Bowraville deferred
Coffs d Hastings 74-12
Dorrigo Rangers v Port deferred
SCU d Kempsey on forfeit