Snappers up but Marlins down in visit to southern stronghold
THE BEST team performance of the season wasn't enough to get Southern Cross University home in today's visit to Stuart Park to play Port Macquarie.
Trailing by five points at the break, the Marlins lodged a converted try on the scoreboard following the resumption to take the lead and a repeat of their upset of Pirates on April 27 was on the cards.
However, a late surge by the home side made it 44-24 their way by the end.
"We were right in it for such a long way," coach Dave Nicol said.
"Like, I'm disappointed we didn't win but there's not much more the boys could have given.
"Pirates kept us pinned for most of the second half inside our 22 and no matter what we tried, nothing could shift us out of there.
"That's the way it goes sometimes."
Marlins went into the match without captain Joel Riddle and in an extra blow, star Pirates standoff Sam McNeill flew back from Friday night's match in Canberra for NSW Country and showing no signs of fatigue, turned in one of his best.
"We didn't win but that's got us fired up to play Coffs Harbour next Saturday in the 40th Anniversary match at home," Nicol added.
That's good news to Snappers No.8 Paul Butcher after his side sharpened up for the upcoming big clash with a narrow 17-10 win over Hastings Valley at Oxley Oval.
"It was very tight and we trailed 10-5 at the break but came home strong to put on two tries in the second half," he said.
"It was a top match and almost nothing in it all the way."
The opponents went hammer and tong with referee Andrew Birch handing out three yellow cards including one to Coffs halfback Stuart McVicar.
"Stu had a blinder just the same and our backline was sensational," Butcher said.
"But the big plus was our front row who gave it everything they had, pushing Port off the ball late in the match when it counted.
"It's hard to pick between Jimmy (Bellamy) and Tonksy (Chris Tonks) as to which one was the better forward so I'll make it a draw."
Star Viking Adam McCormack made it back from Country duties but watched from the sidelines.
He and former Coffs player Tim Metcher were last night named in the Cockatoos team to take on the touring British and Irish Lions.
Upper Mid North Coast Rugby Zone
Coffs Harbour Snappers d Hastings Valley Vikings 17-10
Port Macquarie Pirates d Southern Cross University Marlins 44-24
Kempsey Cannonballs bye
Hastings Valley d Coffs Harbour 10-0
Port Macquarie d SCU 29-3
Bowraville Goannas d Kempsey 22-12
Port Macquarie d SCU 70-5
Hastings Valley defeated Coffs Harbour by forfeit
SCU d Port Macquarie 43-17