FORSTER-Tuncurry's Group Three Rugby League premiership aspirations took a major hit when utility back Sam McCartney limped off with a hamstring strain during the final round clash against Taree City at the Jack Neal Oval.
The fact his side scored a resounding 54-18 win over the Bulls wasn't enough to bring a smile to coach Terry McCartney's face at fulltime.
"Season ending,'' he somberly replied when asked the extent of his son's injury.
McCartney has struggled with hamstring problems all season. He started the game against the Bulls at halfback, ironically in place of his brother, Josh, who was rested.
McCartney has endured three tough years because of injury. He played a leading role in Forster's premiership win in 2011 but even then he spent most of the season on the sidelines. Last year he battled knee and then hamstring problems. The Hawks will feel his absence when the big games start next Saturday against Old Bar in the preliminary semi-final at Old Bar.
The Hawks went into the match against the Bulls minus a number of key players, but still had too many guns for the willing, but short staffed Taree City side.
The Bulls again had to rely on players backing up from under 18s and reserve grade. They were in the game at halftime when they only trailed 18-12 but in reality they didn't ever look like winning the contest. Even minus the McCartneys, second rower Dean Basham and hooker Tom Freeman, the Hawks were too classy, with centre Kurt Lewis in particular causing plenty of problems.
The Hawks were on the board early via a try to fullback Clint Walker and they doubled the score when Lewis brushed through tackles for another unconverted try. Al McDonald broke Taree's duck when he ran onto a pass from Doug Ferguson and Luke Murray kicked the conversion. However, Rumone Jackson powered through some ordinary defence to post Forster's third try and Walker's goal made it 18-6.
Just before halftime Todd Bridge ran in for Taree and Murray's goal reduced the margin to 18-12 at lemons.
However, any hopes of a Taree fightback were snuffed out when Lewis was in soon after the resumption. Wayne Paulson added a further try and from there it became a bit of a procession.