Minor premiers decided in Lower North Coast rugby

THE pace-making Wauchope Thunder women's team and the Forster Tuncurry Dolphins men's team have set such a scorching pace in the first three months of the Lower Mid North Coast rugby union competition, they have clamped iron fists about the minor premierships.

As for the grand finals and Kennards Hire Cup in August, they are a different matter.

There always remains the tension-destroying atmosphere and glorious unpredictability of sudden-death football, whatever the code, where nothing is settled until the final whistle.

Three rounds remain in the women's competition with Wauchope already the minor premiers on 55 points, their nearest pursuers, the Gloucester Cockies and the Manning River Ratz, level on 39 points.

The men's competition sees the Forster Dolphins a single point from claiming the minor premiership, unbeaten after 12 rounds on 43 points and nine points ahead of the Manning River Ratz (34) and still to play Old Bar at Richard Crook Field, Old Bar, tomorrow and finally Wauchope at home at Peter Barclay Field, Tuncurry, tomorrow week.

Tomorrow, the Ratz will meet last year's men's champions, the Wallamba Bulls, at Taree Rugby Park and Wauchope are at home against the defending women's champions, the Gloucester Cockies, potentially a preview of the grand final.

Both Wauchope and Forster have produced match-winning players this winter, the tall, stately Ellie Johnston, a magnificent try-scoring force for the Thunder women, and "Hau" Honemau, the powerful battering ram of a No 8 forward for the Dolphins men.

Others shining for Wauchope have been Telea Waitoa, Bree Green and Grace Tijou while the Dolphins' 110kg newcomer, Blake Polson, has made a splendid impression with his explosive running, restricted though he has been while involved in the hard labour of tight five rugby.

The men's match of the day tomorrow is between Manning River and Wallamba at Taree Rugby Park where the Bulls' credentials for this year will be established once and for all.