WALLAMBA Bulls rugby union players drank their beer without conscience and left the Manning River Ratz nursing bruises and wounded pride at Taree Rugby Park on Saturday.
Four tries to nil and 22-3 were the stark statistics from the rugby clash at the Ratz' home ground, Taree Rugby Park, and not even the Ratz' season-long injury toll could explain away one of the club's most painful defeats of recent years.
The Ratz' wounds from this loss are not skin-deep. They cut to the bone and have assured Nabiac's Bulls of claiming the minor premiership and a home ground advantage for the grand final in the diminished three-club competition.
The win said much for the Nabiac Bulls' coaching and the rigorous demands of Daniel Sawyer and the club's recruitment system as well as the enjoyment and club sprit garnered from strong, sound leadership.
Just how Wallamba's five-eighth, Chris Tout, was not awarded man-of-the-match honours for his slashing performance with two long-distance, side-stepping tries and making the passage for a third by the Bulls' young inside-centre, Jackson Martin, remains a mystery of the game.
Tout has all the qualities to be not simply an Axeman representative for the Mid North Coast Zone but a Waratah for New South Wales and even a test Wallaby. He has speed and strength, a brilliant side-step and is a splendid team man.
Tout was watched yesterday by the Mid North Coast Zone's new president, John Beaumont, an astute rugby man who will surely not see a player of such gifts go to waste in the wilderness of Nabiac's cow paddocks.
They have in young inside-centre, Jackson Martin, a sturdy, well-built midfielder, benefiting from having such a creative pivot inside him as well as the experience of halfback Andrew Paynter, the Bulls' captain, yet another awaiting MNC representative selection.
The longer the game went on, the better and more dangerous the Bulls appeared. And with the depleted Forster Tuncurry Dolphins about to confront them, their lead in the Lower Mid North Coast minor premiership appears assured.
What has been a winter of wasted training nights and forfeited games and a washed out game has seen Dolphins' coach, Ron McCarthy pleading for players to complete the minor premiership with dedication and to show respect for the club's green and gold, colours worn by the club in seven premiership triumphs.