Seahorses just home in error-fest
NEITHER boss was happy at the end of today's Group 2 first grade match at Advocate Park.
Winning Woolgoolga coach Greg Shuttleworth was hardly pumping the air after his side scrambled home 34-28 following a 'get out of jail' try minutes from the end.
Metres away in the Coffs Harbour camp, Steve Gooley was again questioning whatever possessed him to become a rugby league coach.
Both were less than enamoured of referee Nathan Grace and for once they had grounds for head shaking, as it wasn't one of the undisputed top whistleblower's better showings.
But to be fair to Grace, he kept control in difficult circumstances on a day when constant niggling by both teams could have caused the afternoon to explode irretrievably.
Apart from the fact that footballers can get into a certain mindset and if coaches can sometimes find them uncoachable, referees can discover those same lads have decided to become totally uncooperative.
And as the men with the clipboards again agreed, what causes players with so much natural ability to ignore the basics and lose the plot is totally beyond them.
If only one of the teams involved had settled down to play solid, uncomplicated percentage footy, their opponents would have been blown off the park.
"It started in the first half," Shuttleworth growled."We've lost four games this year and almost another by lack of patience.
"There's going to be a real serious chat at training - for probably the seventh time this year - and we've got to realise that patience is the key.
"The first 10 points Coffs scored came directly off our errors and it's just not good enough if we want to be competing in the big ones at the end of the season."
The Comets had a brilliant start with a try in the first three minutes, backed up not long after when Brad Collison crossed in the corner after running off a brilliant around the corner pass delivered by Michael Meadows that the late Artie Beetson would have been proud of.
Woolgoolga contributed by hanging back in defence but at last found some momentum and scored twice when Coffs centre Ryan Hall was sent to the sin bin.
There was a tense moment when referee Grace appeared to make an unusual error which (fortunately) didn't come back to haunt the Seahorses.
He awarded a penalty after Matt Cheeseman had grounded the ball for a 'try' but what stopped that from becoming a total drama was Coffs Harbour's weekly inability to control their handling in the ruck area ... or play the ball properly as they were taught in under-7s.
Coffs were in front 10-8 at the break but it was almost a toss of the coin job.
"Being a coach is punishing at times but again, we made four or five critical mistakes in the first half that cost us," Gooley said.
"There were four or five other critical decisions (out of our control) which cost us.
"It's frustrating to see we played to that level and on that effort, it's doubtful if we can make the five."
Another brilliant start to a half of football had Coffs across in the 43rd minute.
Woopi hit back after Joe Ravueta made a dashing bust down the left hand touch line and handed on to Monckton who scored in the corner.
Again Coffs replied.
Then it was the Seahorses' turn and they scored twice to come level for the first time in the match.
Finally they hit the front when Wayne 'The Treasurer' Swan scurried over.
Wouldn't you know it?
Again things evened up with a try to Comets prop Albert Penese.
However the game turned three minutes from the end when Woopi's hard-working hooker Blake Seymour took a needle-eye opening close to the posts and the visitors were off the hook.
"Blake took his opportunity really well but I hope they don't think they can rely on something like that every week to get us across the line," Shuttleworth said.
"There was 25% good stuff but a lot of ordinary stuff as well.
"So a couple of matches from the semis we've still got plenty of work to do."
Despite the Seymour try, the final seconds were filled with tension for Woolgoolga as the Comets hammered back on their door.
As ground announcer Max Dawes declared there were 35 seconds remaining, referee Grace stopped play for some inexplicable reason.
Later, Comets fullback Nathan Curry confirmed what many on the sideline thought had happened.
"One of the (un-named) Woopi blokes sung out that the siren had gone - when it hadn't - and Gracey stopped to find out what was really happening," he said.
"It probably cost us our last scoring opportunity."
That final drama aside, coach Gooley again tried to shoulder his share of the blame when to be totally honest, he's not the one making the same mistakes week in - week out.
"The frustrating thing is this team has so much ability, even more than many of the teams above us," he added.
"But we continue to not play as a team and it's cost us."
No truer words have been spoken.
WOOLGOOLGA SEAHORSES 34 (B Seymour 2 J Skeen N Monckton W Fernando M Cheeseman W Swan tries W Fernando 3 goals) bt COFFS HARBOUR COMETS 28 (R Hall 2 B Collison J Sanders A Penese try S Street 4 goals)
Penalties: Woolgoolga 15-9
Errors: Coffs Harbour 10, Woolgoolga 9
Referee: Nathan Grace
At Advocate Park, Coffs Harbour
Reserve grade: Woolgoolga bt Coffs Harbour 36-18
Under 18s: Coffs Harbour bye