THE Gloucester Cockies secured their spot in the Lower Mid North Coast rugby union finals series with a gritty 27-11 win against the Myall Coast Mudcrabs.
The Cockies, ploughing through rain and slush, beat the Mudcrabs and booked their place in the semi finals starting on September 6.
Gloucester comfortably accounted for the third-placed Wallamba Bulls 33-8 a week earlier and Myall came to Gloucester well aware of the dangers involved, duly succumbing to Gloucester’s power-laden pack, led with resolve by veteran hooker Dave Cox.
So relentless were Gloucester’s forwards that they camped in Myall’s half and scored three tries in the first half hour, all to lock Jamie Andrews and all converted by prop Mick Wooster, to lead 24-8 and all but settle the affair.
It was to Myall’s credit, behind inspirational five-eighth Brendon Cusack, that they kept Gloucester tryless for the final 50 minutes and were the Cockies’ equal for much of the second half.
Sixteen-year-old flanker Kenneth Wamsley was tireless foraging in the forward battle, but it was the performance of 36-year-old Andrews, beginning at number eight, moving to five-eighth, occasionally to lineout forward and crashing through for three tries, that proved the match winner.
Andrews paid rightful tribute to his forwards and their scrum domination against staunch rivals, with special mention reserved for props Wooster and Don Hamilton and lineout forward Lucas Dellsperger.
Halfback Andy Paynter worked the scrum base with typical fortitude and, with Jack Alison back at five-eighth, the Cockies looked a far more dangerous proposition, complemented by the speed of wingers Ethan Hamilton and Ryan Hennessey and energy of fullback Nick Clarke.