A DESTRUCTIVE display of running by Forster Tuncurry Rugby Union Club's new powerhouse hooker, Blake Polson, highlighted the Dolphins' defeat of the Wallamba Bulls in Nabiac.
A 22-year-old, 110kg product of the dairy farming community of Oxley Island, Polson was the inspiration of the Dolphins' seven tries to two and 41-14 defeat of their conquerors of the last two grand finals on the Bulls' home ground of Aub Ferris Field.
Coupled with Polson's explosive performance, coach Ron McCarthy was also able to reinforce his pack with another hefty utility forward in Nigel Pereira, returning to the club after two years in South Australia, whose bruising runs helped nullify the Bulls' forwards.
Satisfying though the Dolphin men's win was over their arch rivals, there was no sense of revenge in their performance regardless of the Bulls fielding premiership champions such as Daniel and Rhys Hessing, Chris Tout, Andrew Paynter and Dan Sawyer.
As skipper Mark Hagarty succinctly observed: "A new year and new challenge, one mountain behind us, a long way to go."
It was the Wallamba women's 58-5 win over the Dolphinettes in the early game which produced the astounding exhibition of the Lower Mid North Coast season with 18-year-old five-eighth, Courtney Currie, running in seven of her team's 10 tries through speed and dazzling footwork.
A new year and new challenge, one mountain behind us, a long way to goForster Tuncurry captain Mark Hagarty
Notice of the Bulls' decline occurred days before when Taree's Manning River Ratz reached the half-century of points against them. Clearly, they are not the force which won the Kennards Hire shield of 2017 and 2018.
Club official Rodney Watt lamented midway through the game: "We had 30 players in our squad last year. Today, we have 16 and now we are down to 14 players. Eight of our big men are gone, forwards like the powerful Christiaan Pheiffer."
The Dolphins led 10-7 at halftime following a 10-4 string of penalties against them by referee and ex-Gloucester goal-kicking prop, Michael Wooster, one decision involving a penalty try when Dan Hessing was obstructed in the right wing corner.
The Dolphins forged home with five second half tries, another returning player in winger Steven Stanton notching a brace of tries and lock Chris Simon ploughing around the front of a lineout for a smartly worked try.
Taree's Manning River Ratz took the men's minor premiership lead with a comprehensive 33-8 defeat of the Wauchope Thunder although the Thunder's women team continued its domination of the premiership with 63-5 win over the Manning River Ratz.