The Forster-Tuncurry Dolphins paraded in their best finery after their 69-19 defeat of the Gloucester Cockies in Gloucester, but turtle necks and gold chains will be their last concern before their clash with unbeaten rugby union competition leaders, the Wallamba Bulls, at Tuncurry next Saturday.
Convincing enough as the Dolphins’ 11 tries to three win was against the tackle-shy Cockies, the Bulls continued impressively on their unbeaten path, cruising to their ninth successive bonus point win against the Myall Coast Mudcrabs, 68-5, at Nabiac.
Injuries and absentees have been the bane of Dolphins coach Ron Rae’s life this season, halfback Liam Brady the latest with a severely lacerated hand, requiring Kurt Forester to fill the breech, a position he occupied with much initiative, scuttling through Gloucester’s ruck twice to set up two tries and a 12-nil lead in the first six minutes.
Gloucester spent the first half recovering, their defence failing lamentably.
Facing a ransacking, the Cockies regained some face, five-eighth Nick Clarke weaving his way through for a splendid try from half-way and fullback Luke Boorer displaying exceptional speed in out-flanking the Dolphins for two tries.
“It took us 40 minutes to warm up,” commented exasperated captain, Michael Wooster.
“We were terrible.
“Yet, we showed how well we could play in the second half.”
With flanker Troy Haines smashing through Gloucester’s defences, Matt Nuku orchestrating the team superbly from five-eighth, tight-head Ben Manning back as cornerstone of the scrum after injury, the Dolphins careered away to lead 48-0 in 46 minutes.
While the Cockies’ three-try response came during a sequence of five penalties for Gloucester, it was merely a response to Dolphins’ errors by an impartial and commendable referee, Damian Daczko, president of the Forster club.
So successfully did the Dolphins launch their attacks that outside-centre Jesse Logan enjoyed one of his finest games with three tries and, revealing his new-found mobility, tight-head Manning notched a brace of tries, as did industrious flanker, Tom Homer.
Gloucester’s frustrations after their fine performance against Manning River the previous weekend, were due to the team’s ineffectual tackling. Initially bewildered by Nuku’s sleight of hand, the Cockies’ backs then left gaping holes or simply fell off their tackles.
Regrettably, the Cockies’ sustained worrying injuries to young prop Alex Wright (ribs) and line-out- winning flanker Jeremy Kelly (ankle), coming on top of being without four prominent players, Chris Marchant among them due to a virus.
The last two months of Lower Mid North Coast rugby should see the Cockies become very familiar with coach Tim Threadgate’s tackle bags, presumably neglected items in the club’s store room.
At midday, the 80-kilometre run up Bucketts Way to Gloucester is the most pleasant scenic drive in rugby.
By nightfall, returning home in pitch black after visiting the Roundabout Hotel, is a hazardous business. Fortunately, the Dolphins had an excellent coach driver in ex-prop, Chris Murray.
FORSTER TUNCURRY 69 (J Logan 3 B Manning 2 T Homer 2 T Haines M Nuku M Hagarty R Avard tries;L Crozier 4 M Nuku 3 goals) beat GLOUCESTER 19 (L Boorer 2 N Clarke tries; M Wooster 2 goals). WALLAMBA 68 beat MYALL COAST 5; MANNING RIVER 55 beat OLD BAR 3.