Wauchope Thunder lead explosive second half to take 22-5 win over Barbarian Hogs in Port Macquarie

VICTORY over the Manning River Ratz in Taree on Saturday will secure Wauchope Thunder grand final men's hosting rights at Andrews Park on October 3.

But to do so they will have to knock off the team that hasn't been beaten all season.

However, if their previous encounters this season are to be any indication, individual brilliance could determine which team progresses into the lower Mid North Coast rugby union decider first.

The loser has a second chance as they will host the preliminary final next weekend.

The Ratz were standouts in 2020, finishing the competition proper with an unbeaten record to claim the lower Mid North Coast minor premiership for the first time.

Wauchope tuned up for the finals following a hard-fought 22-5 win over the Barbarian Hogs last weekend.

Both teams struggled back and forth for control in the first half and endured scoring attempts which fell within metres of the tryline.

Wauchope's Tristan Scott restarted the team's engine room early after the halftime break with a sideline sprint and try.

The Hogs replied with a try to Harvey Brian and were also unable to complete the conversion as the kick fell short and to the far side.

Wauchope's Jordan Byrne, who had been thrown into the air during lineouts all game so far, produced arguably the best try of the game as he crashed through three Hogs players consecutively for a successful try.

The kick was converted by Stephan Blair from straight in front of the sticks.

Wauchope locked up the win with another try from promising forward Oliver Pascoe and another successful conversion from Stephan Blair late in the game.

Hogs captain Rhys Martin said the team ran into a strong Thunder defence strategy and couldn't overcome it during the match.

"We had plenty of ball in the first half but they defended really well and we couldn't get any points on the board," he said.

"The game opened up from the second half straight away from the kick off.

"We said we can't let the floodgates open up and I think we did well to hold our composure.

"In tight was where we were going to beat them but their backs and sliding defence was just too good for us."

Wauchope Thunder captain Aaron Robinson said the long break away sprints were rugby flair at its finest.

But he knew his team still had plenty of work to do.

"The game was scrappy, very scrappy," he said.

"The first half was tough but the boys went better in the second half with the wind.

"We have a second bite of the cherry next week and we now go into the semi-final against Taree.

We have a second bite of the cherry next week.

Wauchope Thunder captain Aaron Robinson