The end of round one of the Lower Mid North Coast Rugby Union competition was always going to be a thriller with the two teams who fought out the 2016 grand final and were now locked at the top of the table playing off for a clear spot at the top of the ladder.
The day was a huge celebration for the Wallamba Bulls with the Golden Oldies Competition featuring the Old Bulls taking on the Forster Dolphins.
After a traditional toast of port to celebrate the camaraderie and spirit of rugby, the players took to the field in a veteran display of what rugby is all about.
Joints were creaking and muscles were aching but the smiles were contagious and every player demonstrated why they are the legends of the rugby community on the Mid North Coast.
The final result was a tie at four tries a piece.
The festivities continued in the lead up up to the main event, the Wallamba Bulls taking on the four time and reigning premiers, the Forster Tuncurry Dolphins, with the Wallamba Bulls ladies day that saw the women pampered with hair and make-up as well as champagne and strawberries.
The Bulls were keen to raise money for cervical cancer research and sponsors donated prizes that were raffled throughout the afternoon.
The Bulls and Dolphins’ game kicked off at 3pm in front of a record bull pen crowd proving once and for all that rugby is alive and well on the Lower Mid North Coast.
With both teams coming into the game unbeaten, it was truly a clash of the titans with top of the table bragging rights at stake for both teams.
From the kick-off the game lived up to its hype with strong attack and defence in a big kicking game from both teams, the crowd was treated to a dazzling display of quality rugby with the Bulls’ Chris Tout again leading the Bulls kicking game.
The first half saw the Bulls take the field with a determined display of three tries and one conversion which went unanswered by the Dolphins.
Despite some hard hitting advances by the Dolphins, the Bulls’ defence held and as the halftime whistle blew, the Wallamba Bulls led the Forster Tuncurry Dolphins 22-0
As the second half kicked off, the Forster Tuncurry Dolphins showed why they are four times reigning premiers with a massive fightback seeing them add 21 unanswered points in the second half bringing the score to 22-21 with just over 15 minutes remaining.
Dolphins half Liam Brady played a brilliant game to have real impact against the Bulls’ defence in the second half.
The Bulls, determined not to let a win slip through their fingers, dug deep to score a hard fought try from James Handford late in the second half which was successfully converted bringing the crowd to their feet and the final score Bulls 29 defeating the Dolphins 21 placing the Wallamba Bulls in the clear at the top of the table at the end of round one.
Bulls coach, Lee Sullivan, was proud of the way the entire Bulls team dug deep to establish a strong position at the end of the first half but also drew on their fitness and training to hold out a revitalised Dolphins side in the second half.
Sullivan was reluctant to single out any one player in the Bulls team for accolades given the whole teams incredibly strong performance built on the Bulls nucleus of Dan Aldridge, Daniel Hessing, Chris Tout and James Handford against a quality Dolphins side.
The Wallamba Bulls Andy’s Tree Service player of the match was again Dan Aldridge for his brilliant contribution to the Bulls’ game and his solo try that left the Dolphins defence in his wake.
The Wallamba Bulls will continue their trifecta of home games on May 20 at Aub Ferris Oval, Nabiac when they take on the Gloucester Cockies with kickoff at 3pm.