The Forster Tuncurry Dolphins Rugby Union Club’s preparations for the 2017 Lower Mid-North Coast rugby union premiership march on as the reigning premiers prepare for their final preseason hit out at the LMNCRU gala day to be held at Old Bar this weekend on March 18.
The gala day provides a chance for each team to gauge themselves against the competition with many tipping the Wallamba Bulls to be premiership favourites in their anniversary year.
In what is certain to be a fiery opening to the 2017 season the Dolphins will meet Wallamba in the opening game of the gala day.
However, the Dolphins are far from a spent force and have added yet another trophy to the cabinetafter returning home as bowl final winners from the recently held Crescent Head Rugby Sevens.
The Dolphins came up against a red-hot Wauchope Thunder in their first game of the day eventually losing 21-14 in a game marred by handling errors and ill-discipline.
The Dolphins then faced Rugby 7s powerhouses NSW Fiji.
New coach, Ron Rae called for the Dolphins to show pride and grit and they delivered.
NSW Fiji delivered a master class in free flowing sevens rugby winning 39-7.
However, the Dolphins were the only team to score against the Fijians in the pool rounds and the Fijians would go on to win the premier division plate final in emphatic style.
These two losses meant the Dolphins were placed into the third division bowl competition.
The Dolphins brushed passed Wauchope 2 in the bowl quarter-finals running riot on their way to a 40-7 drubbing.
Next up were the men from Victoria, Southern Districts, in what proved to be an engrossing semifinal.
The Dolphins bolted out to an early lead and held on to win 17-5 to qualify for the bowl final.
In an ironic twist of fate the Dolphins were to verse their plate final rivals from last year Burraneer Rugby Club in the final.
As the storm clouds rolled in, both teams made nervy starts to the final.
Two quick tries to the Dolphins saw them take a 14-0 lead into the half.
A try to Burraneer, following a Colin Harris sin-binning, reduced the margin to 14-5.
However, the Dolphins responded quickly with a long range effort to bring the score to 21-5.
The final ended in unfortunate circumstances as a Burraneer player required medical attention ending the game early.
While coach Rae was pleased with the effort shown, he noted that there was still a long way to go if the Dolphins are to secure a record fifth straight premiership.
The LMNCRU Gala Day will begin at 12:30 on March 18 at The Richard Crook Rugby Field, Old Bar.