BARRABA certainly benefited from having a week off as it hit the ground running to beat Quirindi Grasshoppers 36-6 in Saturday’s Wests Shield Group 4 Second Division Grand Final at Barraba Recreation Ground.
The Bulldogs scored three early tries to take control early in front of a vocal home crowd.
Captain-coach Tim Coombes led from the front, as he has all season, and was proud of what the team had achieved.
“I have never had a bad win but this one is pretty special,” Coombes said.
Veteran centre Geoff White showed everyone he still has pace when he kicked ahead down the line, regathered and dived over to take first points.
Fellow centre and son Luke White then scored four points of his own when he crossed not long after and the Bulldogs had their tails up and were rolling
Luke White’s boot was not so good though in the first half and, after scoring the first three tries , Barraba was only up 12-0.
Man of the match Joey Latham was electric at five-eighth, repeatedly taking on the Hoppers’ line and punching holes through their defence.
Big lock Chris Darlington got one back for the Grasshoppers before the break with the conversion only leaving the vistors trailing by a converted try at the break.
That was as close as the Hoppers would come and the last points they would score as the Dogs played like a team possessed in the second half to run away with the game.
Only one minute after kick-off, winger Brendan McIlrick danced through the Hoppers’ defence to score next to the posts and, not long after that, Zac Mallise went over as well.
The big Dogs forwards were unstoppable up the middle and were churning down the field with every set, leaving a tired-looking Hoppers outfit in all sorts.
Coombes was a powerhouse in the forwards for the Dogs and, after a couple of big charges, a great inside pass from Latham found big Tim Mallise who dived under the posts and put the icing on the cake at at 36-6.
“We have been preparing for this game since February and it really paid off,” Coombes said.
“Our enthusiasm in the first 20 minutes was outstanding.”
“The plan was to hit hard up the middle and then spread it to the fringes and that is exactly what happened.”
Coombes said the right preparation and a close squad has led to the premiership and a great season that saw the Bulldogs only drop one game.
Grasshoppers captain Matt McCulloch said that the team wasn’t switched on in the first half and they let the Dogs get on top.
“They are a good side and very big. Once they got rolling it was always going to be hard to stop them,” McCulloch said.
“We had some big games lately to get to the final but it just wasn’t our day. They wanted it more than we did.”
The game was stopped four minutes before full-time after a sickening blow had Hoppers fullback Brad Vidler loaded into an ambulance with a suspected broken jaw and facial injuries.
BARRABA 36 (Luke White, Geoff White, Brendon McIlrick, Tim Mallise, Zac Mallise, Jayse Starr, Nigel Latham tries, Luke White 4gls) d QUIRINDI 6 (Chris Darlington try, Josh Crittenden gl). Man of the Match - Joey Latham (B).