GLOUCESTER High School ran a grand musical production and now the return of seven girl actors and stage hands to the town's women's rugby union team, the Cockies, has brought their defence of the Lower Mid North Coast rugby championship back into fine working order.
This became clear on Saturday as the full-strength Cockies overcame the Forster Tuncurry Dolphinettes at Gloucester No 1 Oval in a well-earned 45-5 success.
Disciplined and industrious, the Cockies were rewarded with a bonus point victory, heartened still further later in the night by the news that the competition leaders in the Kennards Hire women's rugby premiership, Wauchope Thunder, were beaten by the Wallamba Bulls, 19-10.
Wauchope's injury toll was apparently high on the day, but the result made next month's finals playoffs all the more fascinating.
Beneath the soaring Bucketts Range there is no more enjoyable football venue than in Gloucester, making lamentable this winter's loss of the Cockies' men team. Apparently, the town of 2500 people cannot find enough youthful manpower for both a rugby and a rugby league team.
But the women have a splendid rugby union team and their personable club captain, Rhea Holstein, put it nicely when she said at the Roundabout Hotel after their defeat of the Dolphinettes: "We always enjoy playing you, Forster. You smash us hard in the game and then apologise afterwards."
The scoreline was certainly deceptive for it was the Dolphinettes' Daniela Crowther who bustled her way over for the game's first try after which Gloucester's all-round strength prevailed, able to draw on reserves from a 16-person squad.
Undaunted and all spirit, Savannah Clements led on a depleted Dolphinettes, her team ravaged throughout the season by injuries and restricted to the bare minimum seven players, making the performances of Chloe Foley and Emily Kennedy all the more commendable.
But players such as Gloucester's Kelly Rees, a kick boxer turned hard-tackling rugger player, and the likes of Ellie Schumann, Taylor Scanlon and Bella Yates were too swift and disciplined and too shrewdly-coached by Chris Marchant, and they ran out handsome winners.
On a red-letter occasion for the Wauchope Thunder club, they enjoyed their most important afternoon back in the Lower MNC competition with their men's team celebrating a 15-10 win over the Wallamba Bulls, champions of the last two seasons, at Nabiac.
The Bulls' defeat at their headquarters and the fluctuating fortunes of the men's teams in the Lower MNC indicates that the Forster Tuncurry Dolphins, yet to be beaten after 11 rounds, are firming as favourites for this year's title. They had a bye last weekend.
Just how genuine the Dolphins are as candidates will be confirmed next Saturday (July 13) when they host the Manning River Ratz at Peter Barclay Field, Tuncurry. They drew, 25-25, back in April.
The Ratz had a splendid afternoon against Old Bar at Taree Rugby Park last Saturday, their men's team prevailing, 55-3, against the Clams and the women's team claiming victory in the early game, 33-17.