SPEEDY centre Will Baker ran in five tries and Port Macquarie surged into the Group 3 first grade top five with a commanding 40-14 win over an understrength Old Bar on Saturday.
The Sharks are still seething about the loss of six competition points, deducted for two breaches of the group’s match review policy.
At one stage it looked as though they might miss out on the playoffs, but now they’ll be playing semi-final football come August.
And they’ll take plenty of beating.
The Sharks are in white pointer category in terms of size.
Big forwards, led by prop Ben Kirkland lay the platform for a fast backline, hungry for tries. Most country teams would be happy with one game manager.
The Sharks boast two in captain-coach and hooker Jake Hawkins and veteran halfback Joe Cudmore, who control the play.
Cudmore threw the last pass for three of Baker’s tries. However, both also earned the ire of referee Jason Allan and spent 10 minutes in the sin bin during the second half in separate incidents.
Baker scored three tries in first half and two in the second – the last minutes before the fulltime bell. He also had another disallowed after Hawkins was penalised following an altercation with Old Bar halfback Corey Wheeler.
This followed a touch judge’s report and Hawkins was given the stay in the confessional.
Baker’s third was the best of the five when Cudmore delivered a superb inside ball to the unmarked centre to race clear.
Port had all the ball for the opening 10 minutes of the game and turned pressure into points to take a lead of 10-0 they never looked likely to forfeit.
As ever, there was no lack of effort from Old Bar.
This weekend’s clash with Wingham should determine where Old Bar finishes after the competition-rounds.
A loss would almost certainly mean they’ll be playing in the elimination semi-final on August 4.
Hard working Carlos Kohu-Martin, again Old Bar’s best, worked his way through the defence to post Old Bar’s first try and a goal by Percy King narrowed the margin to 10-6.
However, soon after, hooker Dylan Towers lost the ball in a strong tackle and it propelled to Sharks winger Oliver Nosworthy who sprinted 50 metres to touchdown.
Reports indicated the first round clash a couple of weeks ago was willing at times. However, other than Hawkins’s run-in with Wheeler it was all rather tame this time around.
The Sharks won three of the four grades.
The day started well for the Pirates when the league tag won 20-0 but the Sharks hit back with a 12-4 win in the 18s while the reserve grade defeated Old Bar 38-4.