Forster Tuncurry club’s three-quarter, Sean Hassett, put aside his cross-fitness obsession for a second coming in rugby union on Saturday, displaying all his attacking virtuosity with a four-try performance in the Dolphins’ 45-17 defeat of the Gloucester Cockies.
Rangy, strong-running and hungry after a two-season absence, behind the ball-winning exploits of his forwards and a smart service from his inside backs, Hassett foreshadowed his threat with the Dolphins’ first try in the 13th minute and continued throughout displaying his menace.
The Dolphins’ seven tries to two win and the Wallamba Bulls’ bonus point 25-3 defeat of the third-placed Manning River Ratz makes all the more appealing the prospect of next Saturday’s clash between last year’s grand finalists at Peter Barclay Field, Tuncurry.
It is always a pleasure coming to Gloucester. Beneath the spectacular parapets of the Bucketts Range, it is a fine town, of good people, always presenting rugby in the best light, whatever the hazards of the trip home.
The Dolphins did it the hard way. Starting without front-line flankers, Tom Homer and Brad Murray, hooker Scott Walmsley and lineout man, Jack Woods, they basically overcame their disadvantages through their front row titans, Ben Manning, Gavin Maberley-Smith, Colin Harris and Lee Crozier.
A team is nothing without a strong scrum and though Mick Wooster’s forwards toiled fiercely for a tight head apiece, the Dolphins’ pack provided ample possession for Matt Nuku and Mark Hagarty to launch their backs out wide to challenge and pierce the Cockies’ defence.
Colin Harris returned after chipping his elbow, as ever the most formidable of runners, finding a willing ally in No 8 Nathan Johnson ever-ready to leave his forward base and attack the Cockies’ line.
Gloucester’s backs appeared full of attacking promise, especially centre Nathan Goodwin, but it was the individual brilliance of their Axemen’s fullback, Ryan Yates, which first rewarded them, charging down a kick and following through for their initial try.
When rising centre Tom Holman hobbled off with a hamstring strain, Zac Palmer celebrated his 24th birthday with an exceptional performance at fullback in the Kennards Hire premiership.
The women’s sevens game saw an impressive Gloucester Cockies combination overcome Forster’s Dolphinettes, 41-5, Courtney Whitby again outstanding with strong support from Sarah McBride, Ellie Schumann, and Taryn Crook.
The Dolphinettes were rewarded from Danielle Lewis’ long run and consistent enterprise this season with a try by their captain, Emily-Jane Brady.
Young ladies’ referee, 22-year-old Jen Trott was exceptional, allowing substantial “advantage play” after which referee Anthony “Mac” Barber ran a splendid men’s game, issuing just six penalties a side.
Regrettably. a leg injury appears to have frustrated Chris Marchant’s comeback for Gloucester.
Like Jamie “Emu” Andrews, he was an inspiration for the Cockies.
FORSTER TUNCURRY 45 (S Hassett 4 C Harris B Newcombe, N Johnson tries; M Nuku 5 goals) beat GLOUCESTER 17 (R Yates L Boehrer tries; M Wooster 2 goals pen goal). WALLAMBA 25 beat MANNING RIVER 3. OLD BAR bye.
WOMEN’S Sevens: GLOUCESTER 41 beat FORSTER TUNCURRY 5; WALLAMBA 15 beat MANNING RIVER 12. OLD BAR bye.
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