Forster Tuncurry Dolphins v Old Bar Clams 2018

It was a unique experience when the Wallamba Bulls’ coach, Lee Sullivan, acted as assistant referee for the Forster Tuncurry Dolphins’ rugby union game against the Old Bar Clams at Tuncurry’s Peter Barclay Field on Saturday.

With his table-topping Bulls having the bye and comfortably leading the Lower Mid North Coast premiership, Sullivan was up close and personal as touch judge in the Dolphins’ 11 tries to one and 71-13 defeat of the Old Bar Clams.

Sullivan’s generous offer was well received by the Dolphins’ president, Damian Daczko, fresh from his refereeing the women’s strenuous seven-a-side game.

The background information probably only reinforced Sullivan’s opinion that rangy No 8 forward Sean Hassett’s return to Ron McCarthy’s pack has strengthened the Dolphins, Matt Nuku remains the club’s creative heartbeat, utility Tom Harris is youth eternal and the club’s scrum continues as a major weapon.

Up in the ranges, the Gloucester Cockies’ scrum was weakened without rugged prop forward, Mitch Meredith and went down uncomfortably to the third-placed Manning River Ratz, 57-7, although their women’s sevens team remained in minor premiership contention by eclipsing Manning River, 29-12.

Conditions were perfect for the Kennards Hire rugby at Barclay Field: warm sunshine, little breeze and fast field, only for the gallant Old Bar to arrive without 11 players due to employment commitments and injuries.

Their ladies’ sevens team was at full strength, however, and although the Dolphinettes have gathered strength and tackled bravely, they were beaten for pace, four tries to nil and 22-0, winger 18-year-old Nicola Searles displaying exceptional speed for two tries.

The Clams’ Kym Ambrosoli was another outstanding performer while Chloe Coble defended splendidly for the Dolphinettes until injured with Savannah Clements, Danielle Lewis and Jemma Willlmott performing well.

In the men’s game Old Bar’s flanker Phil Koch gave a tireless performance, claiming referee Dale McAuley’s vote as player-of-the-match and scoring the Clams’ try from Ben Petrisic’s neat angled stab kick.

The Dolphins’ ball handling between fullback Zac Palmer and No 8 Hassett and powerful running of backrower Troy Haines cut the Clams apart for eight tries in the first half after which the visitors toughened their tackling in restricting the Dolphins to three tries to one in the second half.

In the Upper MNC premiership, Coffs Harbour qualified for next Saturday’s grand final against Hastings Valley in Port Macquarie by beating Grafton, 35-21, and Wauchope women will meet Port Macquarie in the Sevens grand final.

Forster Tuncurry 71 (T Haines 3 S Hassett 3 T Harris 2 B Manning N Johnson Z Palmer tries; M Nuku 6 goals B Newcombe 2 goals) beat Old Bar 13 (P Koch try; B Petrisic goal 2 pen goals).

Manning River 57 beat Gloucester 7, and Wallamba had the bye.

Women’s sevens: Old Bar 22 (N Searles 2 E Outred E Ralph tries; E Outred goal) beat Forster Tuncurry Dolphinettes 0. Gloucester 29 beat Manning River 12.