Like most of Coffs Rugby’s forwards, Brad Henry was part of the forward pack that struggled against a physical Hastings Valley pack as the Vikings easily won 32-5.
Like most of Coffs Rugby’s forwards, Brad Henry was part of the forward pack that struggled against a physical Hastings Valley pack as the Vikings easily won 32-5. FILE

Mould gets tough after Coffs caned

ANY Coffs rugby players who see new coach Geoff Mould as a kindly father-confessor who’ll forgive their trespasses are likely to get a rude shock at tomorrow night’s training session.

Mould was far from impressed by the 32-5 loss to Hastings Valley in the first home game of the season and made no attempt to sugar coat the reality of the team’s situation.

“We’re thin on the ground with players not coming to training and that means we’re not fit enough,” he said.

“On that performance it looks like we’re struggling in ability but we’ll persevere.

“The fight’s only just started and they are trying to do the things I’m asking and I know it was hard on the wet ground but it could be a long season.”

Mould’s comments were timely and while there was not the slightest hint of personal criticism, somebody had to declare publicly that the city’s premier rugby team has taken a meandering path in recent times.

Since that glorious premiership run ended a couple of years back, mental focus has waned.

Structured play has lost direction and the mystique that once made any Coffs team an immoveable object in the minds of their opponents has diminished significantly.

The Vikings played like Coffs once played ... with gritty physicality in the forward battles, plenty of support play and sheer enthusiasm when the ball is sent through hands and from first whistle until last, that underlying sense of menace brought on by controlled aggression.

“The try we scored at the start was beautiful and full of skill,” Mould said. “But the first two they scored came from our handling mistakes close to the line.”

And that was the glaring problem.

In a conservative estimate, about 80 per cent of the match was played within 60 metres of the Coffs Harbour try-line and the gouges left on Coffs Coast Advocate Rugby Park were proof, with the 20-metre red zones at opposite ends of the field rarely touched by anybody other than members of the visiting team.

Whenever Coffs got too close, Vikings wasted no time kicking the ball to the opposite end – something the home side rarely did in boggy, slushy conditions which demanded such tactics if good field position was to be attained.

In his first game back this season, centre Dylan Hurley proved hard to handle but his effectiveness decreased when he got involved in a verbal disagreement with referee Michael Tonks; an argument the whistleblower quickly ended by producing a yellow card.

For Hastings Valley, controversial prop David Tunstead was magnificent; always the first man willing to ruck the ball up and his perfect foil was halfback Adam McCormack.

The No.9’s judgement while steering his side to victory was outstanding, apart from one comical moment when he totally botched the conversion attempt of a try he’d scored under the posts.

Vikings approached the game with the no-nonsense, clinical, cold-blooded precision Coffs once did and the good news is Mould believes those days will return.

He saw attacking skills that are crying out for encouragement and once the forwards decide to “bend their backs and get down and dirty” the thrills and spills will be back.

“You will see an improvement, we’ll make sure of that,” he said.