Snappers magnificent in mud with narrow win over Pirates
SIXTY minutes of heart-stopping tension ended when Coffs Harbour were signalled 8-3 winners over Port Macquarie on rainswept TG Jung Quarries Rugby Field.
Snappers battled mud, biting cold and desperate attack by the Pirates in a match that will never be looked back upon as one of the classics but certainly, as one of the hardest earned and most deserved wins in a long while.
The home side posted first points when Craig Landrigan scored 20 minutes into the first half and after Koen Mieni missed with the conversion attempt, both sides settled down for a battle of attrition.
There was no change to the scoreboard by half time and with the sides back on the field, Pirates took up residence in the Coffs red zone and threw everything at the line.
Wave after wave of southerners were repelled as the Coffs defenders dug in for the fight.
Coach Rob Waddy was ecstatic at the way his forward pack responded to the challenge.
"We were under so much pressure on our line in both halves and somehow kept hanging on," he said.
"I'm so proud of the young fellows in the team who stood up to be counted.
"We were outsized by Port in the scrum and the boys kept in giving."
While Waddy was speaking, rookie forward Solomon Tong wandered past with a grin from ear to ear.
"Young blokes like Solly there are playing so well," the coach said.
"I hope he stays with us for another 20 years as he's only a pup."
More than most sporting codes, rugby is unique in that one small but critical thing can change an outcome.
Under extreme pressure on their line, Snappers' scum pushed Pirates off the ball, giving skipper Kris Kent a small gap to run through.
Linking up with Mieni and Jacob Phelps, play moved into the visitor's quarter.
Coffs received a penalty and Mieni calmly lifted the ball out of the mud and between the posts to give breathing space.
Again Port came back, this time through a penalty to Reece Martin and again the battle of attrition began.
So tense were the final few minutes that the entire sideline erupted with joy when referee Michael Tonks finally called a halt.
"We were consistent and defended okay whenever Port got the ball," Waddy added.
"We did what we had to do.
"We didn't fold.
"We went well."
Upper MNC Rugby
Coffs Harbour Snappers d Port Macquarie Pirates 8-3
Hastings Valley Vikings d Southern Cross University Marlins 12-0
Kempsey Cannonballs bye
Hastings Valley d SCU 10-5
Coffs Harbour d Port Macquarie 19-14
Dorrigo Rangers d Bowraville Goannas 22-21
Kempsey v Woolgoolga tba
SCU d Hastings Valley 29-0
Port Macquarie d Coffs Harbour 30-10
Bowraville d Kempsey 41-17
SCU d Hastings Valley 39-0
Coffs Harbour d Port Macquarie 14-7
Kempsey v Dorrigo tba
Dorrigo d Coffs Harbour Barbarians on forfeit
SCU d Coffs Harbour 48-5
Hastings Valley Barbarians d Port Macquarie Red 36-0
Kempsey d Port Macquarie Black 75-17