BOTH sides rode a winning streak in the match at Shark Park but it was Port Macquarie’s unanswered three converted tries in the second half that carried them to yesterday’s 28-22 win over Sawtell.
The Sharks opened the scoring with two quick tries but coach Tony Pascoe was then forced to step back as the Panthers came off the ropes to lead 16-10.
“It’s a bit hard to watch your side cop it like that, especially when the opponent is as good as Sawtell,” he said.
“For a while there we lost our way and I didn’t like the look of things when they extended their lead.”
Sawtell was first to score after the resumption and looked well on the way to setting up a handsome score line.
But they didn’t score another point for the rest of the afternoon.
The Sharks held their nerve and, with a surplus of possession finally coming their way, began an awesome comeback.
“I can’t really tell you how long it took us to get back into the game but I know it seemed like forever,” Pascoe said.
“Our last try came with about three minutes to go and it probably wasn’t until then that I started feeling anywhere near comfortable.”
Despite the game slipping away from them, the Panthers could still have made the game interesting if some luck had gone their way.
With time running out, Port put down a ball which was swooped on by the visiting backline with try-scoring specialist Mark Pledger looming ominously.
“Defence was the key at that moment and the boys rallied to bring him down before he got a clear run,” Pascoe said.
“If you allow ‘Pledge’ some daylight you can shut the gate and if he’d given us the slip, it could have been interesting.”
The win keeps Port Macquarie cruising along on top of the table and while Pascoe is pleased with the situation, nothing is being taken for granted.
“Being logical, other sides are improving all the time and you can’t afford to take anybody lightly,” he warned.
“And you’ve got to be ready for the one you don’t expect, especially on the road.”
There’s a tricky one in a few days.
Port will be paying a visit to Macksville.
A quartet of regulars will be on duty with the group representative team.