Coastal worthy champs
Ultimate reward for a season of consistencyGLENN MCLEAN
OPINION: So Coastal are the 2012 club rugby champions. Deservedly so, in my mind.
The most consistent teams sometimes don't make champions. This time they did.
Played 18, won 15, drew one. It's a record unmatched this season and one the club should be proud of, especially in such a tight competition.
Putting it into context, their opponents on Saturday, New Plymouth Old Boys, lost seven matches.
Sure, there might have only been a point between them in the end, but Coastal have made a habit of winning some tight matches this season.
Three 15-13 victories in round one, along with two last-minute wins over Old Boys and Inglewood, set the tone and gave them the background on just how to sneak home in the tight contests.
It must say something about the character of the men in green, too, because they have had to show tenacity in so many games.
"It's not something you talk about," Coastal coach Joe Lawn said shortly after having the winner's medal hung around his neck.
"You talk about being in a fight for 80 minutes but you can't train that will into them. It comes down to their mental attitude, their character and the toughness that they have to hang in there."
It was funny, too, listening and talking to opposition coaches throughout the year.
While they wouldn't say it publicly, there were plenty who fancied their chances every time they faced Coastal.
Their logic was Coastal were not flashy, played pretty much the same game week-in and week-out and they backed their sides to combat them. In a nutshell, they were basically saying they knew what Coastal were going to come at them with.
They were probably right, too.
A good set piece, plenty of bodies at the breakdown and a big bugger or two in midfield to crash the ball back towards their forwards or just straight up the guts, mate.
There was none better at it than influential lock Kane Barrett, while Rick McKenna added another dimension when he returned in round two.
It was a formula that never brought them big results - their biggest winning margin was 32 points against an Eltham-Kaponga side that was struggling to find their feet early in the competition.
If I had to pinpoint a win that just might have given Coastal the confidence and belief they needed to win the McMasters Shield, then I'd say it was the 34-23 victory over Tukapa in round one.
They were very good and Tukapa were pretty average that day but Coastal's players knew they could beat anyone after that effort.
That belief wasn't dented when they got their only flogging of the year in round two, ironically at the hands of Tukapa.
It would have been interesting if the two sides had met in the final and it would have been a hard game to pick but you sense Coastal might just have found a way to sneak home.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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