Snappers rally to defend the line as Pirates pour on the pressure.
Snappers rally to defend the line as Pirates pour on the pressure. Greg White

Simple twist of fate ejects Coffs Harbour from rugby race

EVERY football coach dreads that shadowy period leading into the half time break when a vital match can be won or lost on just one simple decision.

Coffs Harbour was eliminated from the Mid North Coast Rugby premiership race by Port Macquarie after going down 22-0 in the preliminary final, partly because of a roll of the dice in the 38th minute.

Pirates led 10-0 and kicked to the Snappers' line where the ball was rounded up by Koen Mieni.

The young fullback looked to his left and spied Lachie Miller, unmarked on the touch line with plenty of clear space in front.

Rhys Martin was the only Port defender within range, so Mieni loaded the pass to Miller.

Tragically for the home side, Martin read the body language and chose to run at Miller as Mieni unloaded the ball.

He collected the intercept and was over in the corner a split second before the cavalry arrived.

Chris Young missed the conversion but with a 15-0 lead, the game was all but unwinnable for Snappers from that moment.

Coach Rob Waddy was disappointed but philosophical about the loss.

He looked at the mistake as merely one occasion when an overwhelming amount of possession was squandered.

\"We had so much ball and didn't do enough with it," he said.

"Port defended too well and didn't allow much room to make breaks, even though we tried.

"I guess we were far too short of options."

Snappers did many good things but these were frequently in isolation.

Matt Spence, Miller and especially lightning fast winger Mashot Mashot caused plenty of torment for the visiting team.

The problem was those torments were not sustained for multiple phases and once possession was turned over, Pirates became much enterprising with the ball in hand.

With battle-hardened veterans like Matt Maine and Kori Paio back in the line-up and Chris Young steering the ship, Port had too much experience on the day.

"We're a young side and while it's a pity to go out today, we've finished higher up than last year," Waddy added.

"Experience means everything and they'll go even better in 2016."

Preliminary Finals

First: Port Macquarie d Coffs Harbour 22-0

Reserve: Port Macquarie d Kempsey 27-16

Presidents Cup: Dorrigo d Bowraville 25-15

Under 18s: SCU d Kempsey 36-7

Under 16s: Coffs Harbour d Kempsey 58-17

Under 14s: SCU d Coffs Harbour 51-5 and Kempsey d Port Macquarie 28-5

Grand finals at Oxley Oval this Saturday

First: Hastings Valley v Port Macquarie

Reserve: Hastings Valley v Port Macquarie

Presidents Cup: Woolgoolga v Dorrigo

Under 18s: Coffs Harbour v SCU

Under 16s; SCU v Coffs Harbour

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