SCU Marlins remain winless after Pirates stage late revival
THREE second half tries gave Port Macquarie enough momentum and breathing space to forge a 30-16 win over Southern Cross University at Marlins Park.
After 60 tight minutes of tactical kicking and rugged defence from both teams, Pirates switched to running rugby for the final moments to edge ahead.
The Marlins turned in another top performance but again came up empty handed.
If only they had that one game-breaking player all their rivals seem to have, the outcome could easily have been far, far different.
Instead, captain-coach Cameron Smith was left to lament another loss by his brave and bruised warriors, no more battered than himself.
"The boys put in again but it's those last 15 minute periods that are killing us," he said.
In the first half there were so many kicks in general play from both sides seeking territorial advantage that an AFL feeling hovered over the game.
Port attacked relentlessly down the left hand side but was continually repelled by Uni's scrambling defence.
The sides traded penalties and first half tries before the home side took an 11-10 lead to the break with a penalty on the stroke of half time.
The visitors returned to the lead with their own penalty soon after, then changed tactics.
With the ball sent moving through multiple hands, Marlins began to feel the pace and while they crossed again near the end, Pirates had too much jump on them.
"Port played pure rugby near the end and it got them home," Smith said.
"We're close but not close enough.
"Now, our defence is great, it's something I've been stressing from the start of the year as we struggled last season because of (the lack of) it.
"It's just other aspects of the game that we have to put together."
Marlins work hard to get into try-scoring positions ... but as for taking the ball across the stripe?
Coach Smith is digging hard for solutions.
"It's something we all have to sit down and work out," he added.
"Somehow we just have to work out how to do it."
Port Macquarie Pirates d Southern Cross University Marlins 30-16
Kempsey Cannonballs d Coffs Harbour Snappers 24-12
Hastings Valley Vikings bye
SCU d Port Macquarie 24-15
Kempsey d Coffs Harbour 16-14
Hastings d Bowraville Goannas 46-7
Bowraville d Port Macquarie 57-10
Kempsey v Coffs Harbour postponed
Coffs Harbour d Kempsey 24-20
SCU d Port Macquarie 24-5
Dorrigo Rangers d Hastings Valley 31-12