WHAT a shame players on both sides went close to ruining a classic contest at Coronation Park.
Nambucca Heads held off fast-finishing Macksville 31-24 to stay alive in the Group 2 semi final race while the Sea Eagles now bow out.
Sixty per cent of the game was superb entertainment as players let rip in a tremendous local derby.
Unfortunately, the other forty per cent was crud.
Six players were sin-binned and referee Ray Pettit whistled up numerous penalties.
Pettit, naturally, will get the blame by default for those stoppages.
But until players learn to keep their gobs closed and refrain from manhandling opponents at the play-the-ball, expect referees to keep blasting away - and more power to them.
Both teams were guilty of flagrant abuses and what was particularly annoying was the poseur attitude of several of those sin-binned offenders who with gestures and comments to the minority mug element in the crowd, showed such disrespect for the game of rugby league.
When the Roosters and Sea Eagles concentrated on footy, there were thrills and spills a-plenty.
James Livock, Jay Melrose and Cameron Blair were simply outstanding for the winning team while Aaron Wood and Jeremy Taylor are at the vanguard of a Macksville outfit that is clearly on the rise.
However, Nambucca coach Peter Barrett is first to admit that unless discipline improves against whoever the opponent is next Saturday, an early end to 2015 may be in the wind.
"It was more a local derby than a semi final which is probably the reason discipline fell down," he said.
"Both sides were doing it and we got carried away.
"Take all that out and it was a great game of football."
Again, Barrett was happy to forgive lapses in execution rather than rope in enthusiasm.
"When the emotion goes away, that's when we go off our game plan," he said.
"The basic structure is there and what comes next is sticking to the game plan for as long as possible, then let the little touches come out that make the difference between winning and standing still."
The Sea Eagles tried desperately in the last 15 minutes to bridge an 18 point gap.
They pulled off a pair of long range tries against the run of play and might have done it a third time to level up with 90 seconds to go but the ball hit the deck.
"They gave it everything and a great effort to make up that ground at the end," captain-coach Aaron Wood said proudly.
"There's the making of a great side here."
NAMBUCCA HEADS ROOSTERS 31 (Wes Kelly 2, Jay Melrose, Cameron Blair, Jai Waddy, James Livock tries; Cameron Blair 3 goals and a field goal) def MACKSVILLE SEA EAGLES 24 (Jeremy Taylor 2, Daneil Donovan, Michael Tyerman tries; Jeremy Taylor 3, Michael Tyerman goals)
Reserve grade - Coffs Harbour d Orara Valley 34-8
Under 18s - Nambucca Heads d Macksville 48-8