The Lower Mid North Coast's defending women's rugby union champions, the Gloucester Cockies, must have known they were in trouble when they saw the Wallamba Bulls women warming up against their club's male team before Saturday's preliminary final at Taree Rugby Park.
The body contact did the women no harm for they proceeded to dismantle the injury-ridden Cockies, 47-5, in a highly impressive exhibition before this Saturday's Kennards Hire grand final against the Wauchope Thunder at Tuncurry's Peter Barclay Field.
So well-drilled and clinical were the Wallamba women that an earlier prediction about the certainty of Wauchope claiming the inaugural 10-a-side championship might have been misplaced.
All bets are off, in other words, with or without Ellie Johnston and Naomi George in the Wauchope team.
Led by their sturdy, goal-kicking forward, Sharon Cobb, the Bulls ran in seven tries before the Cockies managed to respond through Shyanne Riley's last-quarter try, by which time the team for the grand final was well and truly settled.
The Bulls' performance spoke volumes for the defence and attack strategies of their coaches, Daniel Sawyer and Lee Sullivan, the latter the brain's trust responsible with Jim Wilson for the Wallamba men winning the last two premierships.
Once again, the Bulls' dancing sprite, halfback Courtney Currie, was exceptional, her broken left hand hindering her passing, but doing nothing to curb her exceptional running and will-to-win.
This was an outstanding team performance by the Bulls with Kirsty Schumacher strong at the breakdown, Gabby Simon a formidable front row pillar and Shani Nixon the most dangerous of wing speedsters along with try-scorers Lalirra Simon and Hayley Dunk.
Coach Chris Marchant was generous as he farewelled his Gloucester team, perhaps for only a few months before training resumes for next year's competition, describing the group initially as "a rag-tag bunch, some with 10 games' experience, some with no rugby experience at all.
"Consider where we started and look where we finished," he said.
"In the final! Put some of the things we learned back into life itself and realise how the game and our team involvement have made you all better people."
An interesting observation by Courtney Currie was that when the Wauchope Thunder were beaten on one of two occasions in the minor premiership, it was Wallamba which performed the deed.
"We won't be overawed," she said.
Wallamba will be worthy grand finalists, indeed.
WALLAMBA Women's 10s 47 (C Currie 2 L Simon 2 H Dunk C Simon S Nixon tries; S Cobb 3 goals K Schumacher 3 goals) beat GLOUCESTER 5 (S Riley try).