IN two weeks Taree City has slumped from possible top five contenders to being a real chance of finishing with the Group Three Rugby League wooden spoon.
A fortnight ago the Bulls scored a meritorious 30-16 win over Forster-Tuncurry, where they showed plenty of character and mettle, particularly in defence. However, successive losses to Wingham (50-12) and then Port City (46-14) has shown up Taree's deficiencies in all aspects of the game. Basically the Bulls can't tackle, attack or complete. A lack of experience in key areas is a massive problem for the Bulls and that's not going to be corrected anytime soon.
Port City had only won one game going into Saturday's contest. But the Bulls made them look like champions. The Port forwards led by Dylan Hemsley, Ben Dickson and Bayley Connor tore through their tackle shy opponents - up the centre, on the edges, it didn't really matter where. The veteran halves pairing of Adrian Daley and Josh Hyde had plenty of time to orchestrate play and with the forwards going forward, the backs were had all the space in the world to carry on with the good work.
The first half was a dream for the Breakers and a nightmare for the Bulls. Port trooped off leading 28-4 and barring a second half miracle, the game as good as over.
The Breakers kicked off and Taree lost possession in the second tackle. Port interchange forward Kurt Durbridge then smashed through some ineffective goal line defence for a try converted by Hyde. Port doubled their score minutes later when Ethan Hyde sent smart centre Luke Sinclair on his way and that pretty well set the tone for the rest of the half. With the score at 22-4 Taree lock Thomas Paulson was sent to the sin bin for 10 minutes by referee Bayley Dimarco. Paulson has now had three stints in the bin in two games.
Taree's only bright spot came when second rower Shannon Mullay scored and for a little while the Bulls were competitive. Then the floodgates opened again.
The second half was more of the same, with the Breakers charging through some porous defence while the Bulls kept coughing up possession.
Hooker Oscar Carey was one Bull who could be satisfied with his performance. He scored a neat individual try when he jumped out of dummy half and into a hole, racing 40 metres to the line. He was also comfortably Taree's best tackler.
"I wish we had 13 of him,'' a Taree City official remarked after Carey had scored his try.
That would certainly help.
Taree won the reserve grade 28-22 while Port City's unbeaten women's league tag continued on their way with a 22-6 result. That's the first points they've conceded this season.