OLD Bar and Port Macquarie have been semi-finals combatants since under 10s and line up again tomorrow in the Group Three Rugby League under 18.5 major semi-final on Sunday at Port Macquarie.
“They started playing grand finals against each other in under 10s,’’ Old Bar co-coach Darrin Dark said.
“They got us every year up until under 15s when we finally beat them. Now we’re playing each-other again.’’
As minor premiers the Sharks had the week off in the opening round of the semi-finals while Old Bar made a statement when thrashing Macleay Valley 52-6 in an authoritative display in the preliminary semi at Wauchope. Old Bar led 20-6 at halftime and maintained the pressure in the second stanza. Amazingly, the previous week Macleay edged out the Pirates by a point, Dark saying a number of players in the Old Bar side perhaps weren’t as committed as they should have been on that occasion. That certainly wasn’t a problem last Sunday.
Port and Old Bar had a win apiece in the competition-proper. According to Dark, the teams play a similar game and he’s expecting another torrid game this weekend.
The Pirates came through the demolition of Macleay without any injury worries. Five-eighth Joseph Hinton copped a couple of knocks in that encounter but trained without worry on Tuesday night. He’ll be ready to partner his cousin, Tanna Hinton, in the halves.
Dark said the Pirates no longer have to worry about players backing up for or from first grade. Last weekend second rower Joel Dark, fullback Joel Minihan and prop Jarred Wooster were in the first grade squad on Saturday, where they all played plenty of minutes, before turning out in 18s on Sunday.
Prop Kane Evans and has also had a few runs in first grade this season. Dark believes that extra experience those players gained in firsts could be beneficial in the games ahead.
Old Bar will be the only side from the southern section of the group playing on Sunday’s program. Old Bar’s team is Joel Minihan; Blake Elford, Flynn Kerr, Lachlan Williams, Jake Saunders; Joseph Hinton, Tanna Hinton; Kane Evans, Daniel Cockisedge, Sam Wilkes, Jarred Wooster, Andrew Hills. Interchange Josh Hughes, Drey Mercy, Troy Clarke, Alex Slade, Griffin McDean, Dylan Paulson, Logan Jobson.
Winner progresses to the grand final while the loser will do battle with either Forster-Tuncurry or Macleay Valley in the final.
Meanwhile Old Bar’s women’s league tag side will have to beat Forster-Tuncurry in tomorrow’s minor semi to have any hope of retaining the premiership won last season. Wauchope upset the Pirates 10-4 in the preliminary match at Wauchope last Sunday. Unbeaten minor premiers Port City will meet Wauchope in the major semi on Sunday.