The Lower Mid North Coast rugby union finals series got under way in Tuncurry on Saturday when the Myall Coast Mud Crabs played the Manning River Ratz in a must win game for both teams.
Despite the continued improvement in the Mud Crabs throughout the 2017 season, their fairytale season, built on hard work by the players and dedication from their supporters was brought to an end by a highly motivated Ratz team defeated the Mud Crabs 60-5 to advance to the finals next weekend.
The major semifinal between the Forster-Tuncurry Dolphins and the Wallamba Bulls kicked off at 3pm with both teams playing for an automatic berth, and home ground advantage, in the grand final on August 19.
The players knew what was at stake and the intensity was electric before a huge crowd of supporters for both teams.
The Dolphins No 10 Matt Nuku, was again the lynch pin of the Dolphins’ defence and attack and his team-mates rallied with him to force the Bulls into a penalty inside their 22.
The Dolphins elected to take the kick at goal which was successful and took them to a 3-0 lead about 15 minutes into the first half.
Penalties continued to play a significant role in the final score with a total of five penalty goal attempts with three successful attempts for the Bulls and one of two successful for the Dolphins.
Despite the cost of penalty’s and a player being sin binned, the Dolphins were able to work there way past a much improved Bulls defence to score two tries in the first half, with Matt Nuku successfully converting both, the score line at half time was 17-9.
The second half saw a reinvigorated and determined Bulls team take the initiative to attack the Dolphins line again and again.
An unsuccessful penalty goal saw both sides scoreless in the second half and at the full time the Dolphins progressed to the grand final with a 17-9 victory over the Bulls.
The Dolphins are now rewarded with a weekend off while the Bulls and Ratz will meet at Nabiac at 3pm on August 12 in the final.
Both teams have everything to play for with the winner to meet the Dolphins in the grand final on August 19 in Tuncurry.