Reign­ing pre­miers move into top four

The Coffs Coast Advocate - - FIND A - BRAD GREEN­SHIELDS­shields@coff­s­coas­tad­vo­

WITH two wins in a row, the MNC Rugby premier­ship de­fence of the SCU Mar­lins is back on track.

Af­ter a slow start to the year, the Mar­lins have moved into the top four cour­tesy of a 47-28 win over Kempsey on Satur­day.

It wasn’t all plain sail­ing, though.

The Mar­lins led 26-7 at half time be­fore Kempsey piled on three quick tries af­ter the re­sump­tion to take a two-point lead.

SCU coach Dwayne Vignes said it was a mo­men­tary lapse he’d pre­fer didn’t hap­pen but there’s al­ways rea­sons for these things.

“Kempsey play a very scrappy game. I’m not say­ing that as a bad thing. They’ve got some great in­di­vid­ual play­ers and they were re­ally a thrown-to­gether side against us,” Vignes said.

“We just went off our game plan a bit and didn’t put the foot down when we had to. We had them on the ropes and we didn’t con­tinue on.”

The ma­tu­rity of the Mar­lins’ lead­ers shone through as they helped to steer the young play­ing group to vic­tory.

Tries to Damion Du­mas, Josh Rayner and Jar­ryd Frank en­sured the win and Vignes said he was in charge of a good group when it came to their at­ti­tude af­ter they had fallen be­hind on the score­board.

“There’s still some se­nior play­ers in there that know what they’re do­ing and it’s a mat­ter of just calm­ing ev­ery­body down and get­ting back on track,” he said.

“We’ve got the ca­pa­bil­ity of do­ing that. Even in last year’s grand fi­nal we were down 21-0.

“We al­ways know we can score points. It’s a mat­ter of us play­ing the way we want to play and not wor­ry­ing about the op­po­si­tion so much.”

With a long list of reg­u­lar first grade play­ers miss­ing, there were sev­eral in­ex­pe­ri­enced play­ers who were pro­moted into the first grade side.

Vignes said pro­mot­ing young play­ers was al­most a mantra of the Mar­lins.

“That’s what the club has been about since be­fore I was here, it is about giv­ing these young kids a go,” he said.

“The struc­tures we’ve got in place with our ju­nior pro­gram is ob­vi­ously work­ing well so a player comes through and can step up into first grade.

“That’s the beauty of the club. That’s what they pride them­selves on and that’s what we’ll con­tinue do­ing.”

There were times when it ap­peared SCU was invit­ing Kempsey back into the con­test with dropped ball in poor field po­si­tions.

Vignes said the back­line was dan­ger­ous and “when it does go it is great” but he said there was room for im­prove­ment.

Photo: Brad Green­shields

FOR­WARD THINK­ING: SCU Mar­lins hooker Matthew Potts takes on the Kempsey de­fen­sive line.

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