MANNING Ratz coach Danial Stone was critical of a decision by referee Lee Sullivan to send breakaway Chad Lambert to the sin bin late in the second half of the Lower North Coast Rugby Union grand final against Forster-Tuncurry at Tuncurry.
The Ratz were clinging to a 12-11 lead at the time.
"There was only about 15 minutes to go,'' Stone said.
"Apparently Chad was binned for repeated infringement - but we hadn't been penalised for a while. That was the turning point.''
The Dolphins assumed control while Lambert was in the bin. By the time the Ratz were back to full strength the Dolphns had taken a stranglehold on the premiership and eventually won 37-12.
"They ran in three or four tries,'' Stone said.
Stone said he couldn't fault the effort from his players.
"They were all solid. Matt Hardcastle on the wing was probably our best - he had a blinder, but everyone else put in,'' he said.
Despite the grand final loss the Ratz still enjoyed the club's best season since the Lower North Coast competition was formed in 2008. This was the club's first appearance in the LNC decider.
Stone enjoyed his first year of coaching and looks certain to take the job on again next year. He believes most of this year's roster will be back again in 2014.
"Everyone's keen. They've had a taste of it now and we want to go one better next year,'' he said.