Overcast skies cleared and the sun came out just as the players took to the field in what promised to be one of the most physical games of the round as the Wallamba Bulls hosted the Manning River Ratz at the Bull Pen in Nabiac.
From the kick-off, the Bulls were met by the hard-hitting force of the Ratz, who, despite playing short for the first 20 minutes as they awaited on few players running late.
They were able to hold the Bulls scoreless early, in a take no prisoners style of rugby for which the Ratz are well known.
The Ratz clearly rattled the Bulls and showed why they are a team to watch.
Their work at the breakdown was excellent and really slowed the momentum for the Bulls.
The Bulls had to defend gallantly and waited for the opportunity to turn the ball over in a disciplined display of defence.
They were rewarded when after 12 minutes the ball found its way to Christopher Tout who demonstrated why he is one of the most exciting ball runners in the competition with a 40 metre run to cross for the Bulls first points which were successfully converted to see the Bulls lead 7-0.
As Ratz reinforcements scurried their way onto the field, the full force Ratz stepped up their “hard hitting” style of rugby with penalties flowing as referee Graham Sonter taking action against their ill-discipline.
This was costly with both Blake Howard (No 4) and Dave Rees (No 5) receiving yellow cards and spending time in the sin bin.
The Bulls were not without their casualties throughout the game, hardworking prop Chris Phieffer spending time in the blood bin, but this did not stop the former Northern Suburbs props having an influence on the game.
His ruck work was excellent and well supported by perhaps the hardest player pound for pound in flanker Daniel Hessing.
He was easily the best player on the park and his strong charges and turn over in possession were a highlight of the day.
Another player leaving injured was the ever-improving Jayden Watt.
Whose game has really come on since his return to the forwards.
But an ankle injury later in the match maybe costly for this forward.
The home crowd swung behind the Bulls rising as one as Andrew Paynter (No 9) crossed for the Bulls second try leaving the Bulls leading at half time 12-0.
Half time entertainment continued the Bulls traditional kick for cash which was unsuccessful and will jackpot at their next home game on July 29.
The teams returned in the second half clearly inspired by the half time advice of the coaching staff,
The Bulls dug deep and stuck to their game plan whilst it seemed that the Ratz were even more focused than ever on a physical approach to rugby.
Again penalties flowed allowing the Bulls to add three points to their total before the Ratz, Dave Rees (No 5) was sent off with a red card.
The Bulls were rewarded for their discipline in sticking to the game plan with Chris Pfieffer and Christopher Tout both scoring tries for the Bulls in the second half and securing the enormously important bonus point that sees them continue at the top of the points table in equal first with the Forster Tuncurry Dolphins.
The Wallamba Bulls, Great Lakes Decorative Concrete, player of the match was Daniel Hessing.
The Ratz, who currently sit in third place on the competition ladder will need to focus on a more disciplined approach to the game if they want to be true contenders for the title in 2017.
They have some excellent young players particularly inside centre Brodie Howard who troubled the Bulls backline all day.
In other results this weekend, Forster Tuncurry Dolphins defeated the Old Bar Clams 81-0, Gloucester Cockies defeated Myall Coast Mud Crabs 64-7
Next weekend July 22 the Bulls travel to Tea Gardens to take on the Myall Coast Mud Crabs in their Beyond Blue Bash fun day where the Muddies go blue for charity so make sure you take advantage of the Wallamba Bulls free supporter’s bus which will leave the Nabiac Hotel car park at 1pm on game day.
In other games next weekend, The Old Bar Clams will host the Manning River Ratz and Forster-Tuncurry Dolphins will host the Gloucester Cockies.