Gloucester Cockies play the Manning River Ratz

The Gloucester Cockies have the potential to become a force in the Lower Mid North Coast rugby union premiership, but the young team needs experience, according to club president, Michael Wooster, after their 33-7 loss to the Manning River Ratz on Saturday.

“It was a close, hard-fought game until they scored a length-of-the field intercept try just before the bell,” Wooster said.

“Experience does not come overnight. We need this season and probably next, but if we keep working at it, it will come.”

 Wooster was heartened by the return of exciting fullback Ryan Yates after his injury-disrupted end to last season and the performance of impressive, young agricultural college second rower, Lachie Callis, who is expected to be available throughout the winter.

One major loss has been that of prop forward, Mitch Meredith, possibly the best scrummaging front rower in the competition, who will be out of action until mid-June with a shoulder joint strain.

The Cockies now travel to Hawks Nest to meet the Myall Coast Mudcrabs next Saturday, a much-battered Mudcrabs after their 100-15 and 16 tries to three defeat at Tuncurry by the second-placed Forster Tuncurry Dolphins, strengthened with five-eighth Matt Nuku back after injury and representative Naibuka Naqito returning to the back row.

 The Dolphins’ high water mark defeat of the Mudcrabs sounds impressive enough, but it makes ugly reading for rugby followers.

The trend of local rugby over the last decade reveals a gradual decline in playing numbers and seemingly will continue to do so while ever there is no junior competition such as an Under-19 premiership to replenish senior ranks.

Only the weekend before last, the Mudcrabs defeated the Old Bar Clams, six tries to nil and 32-0 at Richard Crook Field yet, away from home again at Tuncurry on Saturday and seriously under-strength, the “Muddies” pitched to a 16 tries to three loss to the Dolphins.

The Clams ran into the undefeated competition leaders, Wallamba Bulls, on Saturday and unsurprisingly went down, 88-0.

The Ratz were without No 8 Sam Hartnett (back), lock David Rees (knee) and centre Ben Northam (knee), considerably weakening the club, so every win is important nearing the half-way mark in the minor premiership. 

FORSTER TUNCURRY 100 (M Hagarty 4 K Forester 3 N Naqito 2 J Logan 2 M Nuku 2 J Nicholson 2 G Maberly-Smith tries; M Nuku 4 goals L Crozier 3 J Nicholson 3 goals). beat MYALL COAST 15 (A Rushby J Page N John tries). MANNING RIVER 33 beat GLOUCESTER 7. WALLAMBA 88 beat OLD BAR 7.