THE Settlers Inn Hastings Valley Vikings came within a whisker of knocking over the top-placed Coffs Rugby Crabs on Saturday.
The Vikings led 15-10 for most of the second half, only to see the Crabs cross the line right on fulltime, before kicking the conversion after the bell to win 17-15.
Earlier, Vikings coach David Tunstead scored two tries of his own, while captain Adam McCormack bagged one, but it wasn’t enough to get the win.
The Crabs were on the board first, before Tunstead’s first try off the back of a rolling maul 15m out.
“The forwards drove him over, it was great,” McCormack said.
Neither conversions were kicked,, making the score 5-5, before Coffs hit the front again.
Tunstead completed his double in the second half, and McCormack crossed the line.
The Vikings still couldn’t land a conversion, and they had to sweat out the final 20 minutes with a five-point lead.
“I think we ran out of puff a bit,” McCormack said.
“But it wasn’t too bad. It wasn’t anybody’s fault.”
McCormack took comfort in the Vikings’ form turnaround.
“The boys hadn’t been playing to well in the past few weeks,” McCormack said.
“But we towelled up South West Rocks last week, and we only just lost to Coffs.
“I’m happy with the turnaround.”
The side now has the chance to seal a home semi-final against the Kempsey Cannonballs on Saturday.
And with no more players added to the casualty list, McCormack is confident of a strong finals campaign.
“We’ve still got about three players to come back, too.”