IT was success without celebrations for the unbeaten Forster-Tuncurry Dolphins as they claimed the minor premiership of the Lower Mid North Coast rugby union competition on Saturday without kicking a ball at their home ground of Peter Barclay Field, Tuncurry.
For the second week in succession, the Old Bar Clams refused to play their scheduled home game away from their headquarters although Trad Field was again unfit for rugby due to the rain, as an alternative requesting to play the Dolphins in a midweek game.
With the sun shining, conditions perfect for rugby and his team ready to strip for action, the Dolphins’ club president, Damian Daczko, circulated a photograph of Barclay Field to LMNC officials, illustrating the folly of a day wasted without football.
MNC Zone competition manager and executive official, Bob Wilson, again ruled that the Clams had forfeited the game, stripping them of all six points, a similar decision to that he took when the Clams refused to travel to Hawks Nest for their postponed game against the second-placed Myall Coast last Saturday week.
Regardless of the financial losses accrued by the Clams – and the Dolphins offered the Clams full use of their canteen facilities – the MNC Zone must be questioning whether the Clams’ playing numbers have sunk to the point that a mighty club can no longer meet its playing commitments.
The Clams have the right to appeal against the forfeiture decisions against their club and the loss of 12 competition points for the zone’s by-laws stipulate that two forfeitures in a season eliminate the offending club from the play-offs.
Complicating the issue is the lack of time available with just two full rounds remaining before the top four teams meet in the semi-finals on the weekend of August 11-12.
Depending on the final allocation of points after the forfeiture issue has been resolved, the Dolphins lead with 60 points followed by Myall Coast (49 points), Old Bar (33), Manning River (31), Gloucester (28), Wallamba (27) and Harrington (eight).
Political manoeuvering aside, the Gloucester Cockies had their most important win of the year when they defeated the Wallamba Bulls, 22-17, at Nabiac while the Manning River Ratz’ 78-7 thumping of the Harrington Hurricanes left a fascinating scenario with four clubs bunched within six points in pursuit of the last two semi-final positions after the Dorvik Steel Dolphins and Myall Mudcrabs.
Wallamba’s secretary, Rodney Watt, rued the Bulls’ failure to capitalise on a 17-7 lead after which three potential back line try-scoring movements broke down before Cockies captain-coach Mick Wooster stopped the Bulls’ charge with penalty goals.
This Wednesday night, Wallamba play Manning River in a deferred 10th round game at Harry Elliot Oval from 6.30 pm and in next Saturday’s 13th round, Forster-Tuncurry play Harrington at Tuncurry; Gloucester play Old Bar at Gloucester; and Manning River play Myall Coast at Taree Rugby Park.
Results: Old Bar forfeited to Forster-Tuncurry; Gloucester 22 defeated Wallamba 17; and Manning River defeated Harrington 78-7.