A FORFEIT to Manning Ratz has ended Gloucester men's faint chance of qualifying for the Lower North Coast Rugby Union semi-finals.
However, Gloucester women will be in the playoffs, despite losing 32-22 to the Ratz in the game played in summer-like heat at Taree Rugby Park.
The Cockies had a number of players unavailable for last Saturday's round eight encounter against the unbeaten Ratz and were forced to forfeit. Gloucester went into the round three points adrift of fourth placed Barbarian Hogs. The Port Macquarie-based Hogs lost to Wallamba on Saturday. However, Gloucester's forfeit means the Hogs will claim fourth spot, with the Hogs due to play Old Bar on Saturday.
Old Bar has yet to win a match. Gloucester faces third placed Wauchope at Gloucester then meet the second placed Wallamba in the last round. It'll take some heavenly intervention for the Cockies to be still playing when the semi-finals start on Saturday September 19.
Gloucester's slim hopes of moving into the top two of the women's 10s competition ended when they lost to the Ratz in a fluctuating game.
Going into the encounter Gloucester had 17 points and trailed second placed Wallamba by four. The Cockies would have had to win all the remaining matches and hope other results went their way to grab second place. Now they'll look to finish the season strongly in the last two matches before lining up against the Ratz in the September 19 minor semi-final.
Gloucester looked faster than their Taree opponents. However, they frittered away try scoring chances with poor handling or bad options.
This was despite receiving a string of penalties, particularly in the opening two quarters. The Gloucester defensive line had trouble containing a powerful Ratz pack throughout the match.
The Ratz held a three point advantage at halftime but took a stranglehold on the match in the third quarter.
Players from both sides struggled in the oppressive conditions.
Defending premiers Wauchope Thunder thrashed Old Bar 77-0 in the other women's game and are now on track to claim the minor premiership.