Port Macquarie Pirates coach Marc Minor couldn't afford to be too disappointed despite their 46-14 loss to Southern Cross University on Saturday.
The 32-point defeat took Pirates' destiny out of their own hands and instead they will now be interested spectators when Coffs Harbour host Kempsey this weekend.
Should the Snappers overcome the Cannonballs, the Port Macquarie side will live to fight another day by securing the fourth spot in the Upper Mid North Coast Rugby Union finals.
"We know we can play footy and the rest of the comp should watch out with Marlins because we didn't play poorly by any stretch on Saturday," Minor said.
"If Marlins play like that they could very well roll the Vikings."
It was only 10-0 after 30 minutes on Saturday before Koby Old was sin binned which put an end to any hopes of a Pirates comeback when the Marlins scored two tries down the vacated left wing.
The Pirates had simply taken too much "petrol out of the tank" in the first half when Marlins utilised a strong breeze to their advantage.
"Nothing really went wrong; Snappers played really well," Minor said.
"They had a good breeze in the first half that they utilised and that took all the petrol out of the tank. When we turned around the breeze dropped off.
"They were able to kick and keep us pinned down in our own 22 for most of the first half."
Minor said a cancelled clash in Coffs Harbour as a result of the COVID outbreak last month could potentially seal their semi-final fate.
"We have to wait on results this weekend, but that's how the cards were dealt when we didn't go to Coffs Harbour because of COVID. It cruelled our year," he said.
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