Mariners fall short in the final seconds against Caloundra

SOMETIMES sport just is not fair.

Regardless of all players' effort, sport plays by its own rules, and one moment can entirely change the game.

For Fraser Coast Mariners, sport has been a horrible mistress this year, and on Saturday she dealt her cruellest blow.

They led Caloundra 21-14 at half time, and late in the game held a two-point advantage over the defending premiers.

That's when the bad luck struck.

UNITED: Fraser Coast Mariners’ horror start to the season continued on Saturday as Caloundra stole a late victory. The Mariners have not given up, and will be tough to beat when they host Maroochydore on Saturday.
UNITED: Fraser Coast Mariners’ horror start to the season continued on Saturday as Caloundra stole a late victory. The Mariners have not given up, and will be tough to beat when they host Maroochydore on Saturday. Matthew Mcinerney

Caloundra were awarded a penalty more than 40m from the posts and near the sideline, but given the Lighthouses missed several easier shots the Mariners, and their fans, were not worried.

Just as the Mariners' poor luck would have it, the Gilbert sailed through the posts to consign them to their fifth-straight loss.

"It's gut-wrenching," co-coach Adam Ebert said.

"Cheeky bugger. He was shanking them all day then he hit that one."

Ebert left the field moments before the penalty, and watched helplessly from the bench as Caloundra secured the 27-26 win to remain second on the Sunshine Coast Rugby Union reserve grade table.

It was a mixed bag for the Mariners, who started strongly but were slowly undone by sloppy handling, which led to several turnovers during first phase play.

Fraser Coast's forwards dominated, but their vastly superior scrum was left blunted as Caloundra lost too many props to injury.

When a side loses too many props to injury the scrums are to be uncontested, and when the Lighthouses lost their second prop it meant one of the Mariners' strengths was neutralised.

"We're not going to whinge about it too much," Ebert said.

"Josh Hutchens, it was his second season with us and he's really come along since he moved into flanker."

Co-coach Trent Devere said it was the best Mariners' performance so far.

"We did get two bonus points out of it, so we'll take that," he said.

The Mariners will focus on possession and skills ahead of their home game against Maroochydore on Saturday.