Port Sharks attack Seahorses
NOT since 1995 has Woolgoolga beaten Port Macquarie outright at Shark Park and that record is safe for another season.
The Sharks found something extra in the last 50 seconds to force a 16-all draw with the Seahorses with visiting coach Darren Leaney admitting he threw one of his “four or five dummy spits for the season.”
“Funny how much damage I did to the water bottle I was holding when Port scored near the end,” he laughed.
With the siren sounding, Leaney was forced to watch Port sharpshooter Josh Mann line up the conversion attempt that could have won an epic battle but thankfully, the prolific points scorer was off target on this occasion.
“For this time of the year, I was amazed how much quality there was on the park,” Leaney said.
“It was very physical and admittedly, some of the tackles went higher than they should have but that's what happens when two top sides put everything into it.”
With scores locked 10-all at the break, the Seahorses stole a march when play resumed and looked likely to survive everything the home side could throw at them.
But when a ball was spilled on Woolgoolga's line with seconds remaining it gave the Sharks one last crack at glory with a goal line drop-out awarded.
“It was the last lager waltz and with the final play, Port put a cross field bomb on us and managed to score to lock the game up,” Leaney revealed.
“Watching Josh line up that kick were some of the longest seconds of my life and I think a draw was a fair, honourable result.
“Port were a bit unlucky as we scored when they had two men in the sin-bin but that's footy.”
Leaney said the Sharks had used their customary game plan of running their big men to make yards through the middle and then defending like crazy in the same part of the ground.
“We lacked size in the forwards ... having big men to counter them would have been handy but I can't praise my blokes enough for the effort,” he said.
“Both sides made handling errors but it had nothing to do with bad ball skills.
“The errors were forced when players were crunched in heavy traffic and as a coach, I just have to grit my teeth and get on with it.”
With most of the Woolgoolga touring party staying overnight in the Hastings, the coach said the exercise was definitely a 'reward' activity for his players.
“We wanted to get back to the old country footy ways of playing a hard game and then having a few drinks and bit of fun afterwards,” he said.
“It seems to have worked a treat and sets us up for a big return visit when the Sharks come north in the second round.
“Both teams are getting a fair idea of what is required to go a long way in this comp and it's pumping up things for the supporters also.”