The Wallamba Bulls took an important step towards the minor premiership when they overcame the Forster Tuncurry Dolphins in a torrid rugby union encounter at the Dolphins’ home ground of Peter Barclay Field, Tuncurry, on Saturday.
The Bulls’ superiority in their 26-12 success was sufficiently marked to leave with a bonus point for running in four tries as well as leaving with morale boosted in restricting their arch-rivals to two tries.
The game was more a gruelling clash which took toll of its players than the sweeping four tries apiece spectacle of their previous clash at Nabiac and important enough to reclaim the Bulls the minor premiership lead, 37 points to the Dolphins’ 32.
Without drawing too long a bow, there was something similar about the Bulls’ performance to that of Ireland’s foolproof, ball-retention rugby in their two-one test series defeat of Australia, hard up front, fast out wide.
It said much for coach Lee Sullivan’s clinical preparation of the Bulls and, equally, how the Dolphins suffered for the two-month early-season absence of a coach before the merciful return of Ron McCarthy after his year-long sojourn in Italy.
Nothing illustrated the Bulls’ superiority more graphically than the spectacle of their long-haired flanker, Rhys Hessing, claiming nine lineouts in quick succession, four on the Dolphins’ throw, while notching their third try in the process.
It was of no consolation that Hessing’s early rugby came as the Dolphins’ ball boy when older brother, Daniel, was establishing his reputation as one of the Mid North Coast’s finest for the Dolphins before joining Nabiac’s new Wallamba club.
How the MNC Axemen’s coach, Angus Anderson, could have used both Hessings in the NSW country championships only for Rhys to be sidelined with a broken forearm.
The likelihood is that the Bulls and Dolphins will meet on three more occasions in the Kennards Hire premiership this winter. If nothing else, the encounters will make for absorbing battles of attrition.
Wallamba were full of purpose, loose-head prop Christiaan Pheiffer, hooker Curtis McAnally and tight-head Paul DeSzell rocking the Dolphins’ pack in the first scrums before the vast experience of Ben Manning, Scott Walmsley and Gavin Maberly-Smith made it a game-long battle royal.
The Dolphins were never short of courage although stamina was found wanting as the Bulls’ back line stretched them with wide passing from the scrum base by halfbacks Andrew Paynter and Steven Curnow. Backrowers Troy Haines and Tom Harris were outstanding for the Dolphins.
In important away wins, the Gloucester Cockies overcame a determined Old Bar Clams, 22-19, at Richard Crook Field while their women’s sevens team had an equally commendable 12-10 success against the Clams, keeping them to the forefront in the competition with Wallamba.
In the women’s sevens: Gloucester 12 beat Old Bar 10, Wallamba 38 beat Forster TUuncurry 0, and Manning River had the bye.
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