THE Gloucester Cockies come to the coast tomorrow on what seems “mission impossible” for their rugby union clash with the defending premiers, the Forster Tuncurry Dolphins, at Peter Barclay Field.
Nearing the end of a demanding season, what with retirements, injuries and work commitments, the Cockies must gain at least a precious bonus point against the Dolphins to remain in contention for the fourth semi-final position on “Super Saturday”, August 5.
At present the men from the ranges are in fifth position on 16 points with their final minor premiership game after the Dolphins being against the wooden-spooners, the Old Bar Clams, at home in Gloucester, logically yielding a bonus point win for five points, leaving them still a point behind the fourth-placed Myall Coast Mudcrabs.
When the two teams last met in June, the Cockies slumped to a 50-point loss to the Dolphins at their home ground. Forster should be strengthened tomorrow with the return of crack halfback Liam Brady after severely gashing his hands in an industrial accident six weeks ago.
On their day, the Cockies are an exciting attacking team with young, enterprising backs such as half Doug Laurie and five-eighth Nick Clarke, fullback Ryan Yates and speedster Luke Boorer, and fine forwards in flanker Jeremy Kelly and props Alex Wright and Ken Wamsley.
At the helm, they have veteran goal-kicking forward, Michael Wooster, as captain and hooker. On paper at least they have the quality necessary to run the Dolphins to the wire and to score a bonus- point four tries.
Optimistically, it will be a spectacular affair. But the Cockies need to be at full strength for the Dolphins are gathering momentum for the demanding weeks ahead, a period when they will meet competition pace-setters, the Wallamba Bulls, as many as three times.
Ironically, the Cockies defeated an under-staffed Myall Coast, 68-7, last Saturday at Gloucester Park, so it will prove the ultimate frustration if Myall claim fourth position for the sudden-death semi-final against the Manning River Ratz on August 5.
A mere 10 Myall players arrived at Gloucester last Saturday, drawing the wrath of their secretary, Ms Annie Scully, who told them: “You were very brave today with so few players, but talk to your mates and friends and tell them to show some balls for the club!”
The Mudcrabs are at home at Hawks Nest tomorrow against Wallamba and then meet the Ratz at Taree Rugby Park on Saturday week, difficult back-to- back games which could leave them stranded on 22 points, but still a golden point ahead of Gloucester.
Two rounds of the minor premiership remain with the home ground benefit of “Super Saturday’s semi-final double-header” dependent on the outcome of the Dolphins’ clash with the Bulls in their 15th round game at Nabiac tomorrow week (July 29).
Old Bar’s scores hardly reflect their improvement for injuries have battered them recently, but they are desperate to do the name of Richard Crook proud at their home ground against the Ratz tomorrow.