MOREE captain Ben Colley remembers when the Bulls were the kings of Central North.
He’s been there for all four of the Bulls’ most recent premierships including the three straight they won against their grand final combatants tomorrow – Narrabri – between 2003 and 2005.
2003 was his first grand final for the Bulls.
He played at fullback that day and kicked all 12 of the Bulls’ points as they held on for a one-point win.
“We drew the next one and won the following,” Colley recalled.
It hasn’t been all rosy though.
There’s been some disappointments like two years ago when they were beaten by Pirates in the grand final.
They only just got there then – drawing their final against Narrabri and getting through by virtue of their higher standing.
Colley felt they were better-placed this year and not just because they’re at home.
“Our forward pack is quite similar but the backline is different,” he said.
Heath Riggs is the only one of the current backs who played that day.
“We’ve got a good centre pairing and plenty of speed on the wings,” Colley said, with Sam Bacigalupo and Joe Henderson out there.
They also didn’t have five-eighth Ben Carrigan. He was away travelling and missed the back end of the season.
“He’s been pretty crucial for us all year,” Colley said.
He said this season has probably been his best season for them.
“He’s directed us around well,” he said.
From not even making the finals last year to finishing minor premiers, it has been a big turnaround for the Bulls.
Colley put it down to a few factors.
“With the inclusion of a few new guys, that’s brought a bit of a fresh outlook to training,” he said.
“There’s been a bit more of a committed effort at training.”
He said everyone was pretty excited about tomorrow and not just the players.
“It’ll be a big day for the club,” Colley said.
With three grades contesting grand finals, he’s anticipating a big crowd, and then you’ve got Narrabri on top of that.
Their involvement will bring a lot through the gate.
Tomorrow will be a fitting way to end for the two sides.
They’re one apiece heading in.
“We’ve both beaten each other away from home,” Colley said.
That doesn’t augur well for the Bulls but Colley is confident they can turn that loss a month ago around.
“I don’t think from when we last played them we have to change too much,” he said.
“We just have to execute.
“We were pretty ordinary that day.”
They also didn’t have coach Damien Kelly, Matt Wannan or Angus Boileau that day.
Colley was predicting that whoever comes out on top in the forward battle will come out on top at the end of the game.
“Whoever wins the forward battle will win,” he said.
“The backlines are matched evenly enough.”
So too are the forwards, but they are the primary providers of possession, and whoever controls that will most likely control the game.
The last two games have shown that.
Narrabri pinned Pirates down in their half for much of the second half last week.
Moree did the same the week before.