BARRABA Bulldogs dodged an opening-day disappointment at Boggabri’s Jubilee Oval on Saturday as the 2014 Group 4 Second Division kicked off in Boggabri, Bendemeer and Walcha.
Kootingal Roosters, under new captain-coach Nathan Hamlin, beat the Bendemeer Mountain Men 34-24 at Bendemeer Oval, Walcha Kangaroos went close to knocking over Dungowan Cowboys at Captain Cook Park, going down 24-22 after the Cowboys scored two late tries and Boggabri Kangaroos went within 30 seconds of upsetting the reigning premiers at Jubilee Oval, losing 16-12.
The Dave Harris-coached Kangaroos had led 12-10 with less than a minute to go but young centre Ty Fairweather scored with the last play of the game to enable the Bulldogs to start their title defence with a win.
“Boggabri played pretty well,” Barraba captain-coach Tim Coombes said.
“We made a lot of mistakes and have a lot to work on.
“But we did show some ticker to come back.
“It’s better to win ugly than to lose pretty.”
The Kangaroos started well and were always going to be a tough first-up match for the Bulldogs who were missing Joey Latham, Jock and Jack Mallise.
“We knew they would be physical too and they gave us a tough game,” Coombes said.
Barraba was best served by centre Luke White.
Adam Russell, who scored two tries, and Jayse Starr also stepped up, Coombes said.
Brad Haire and Mitch Campbell stood out for the Kangaroos with Campbell and Chris Sheridan scoring the tries to give the home side its 12-10 lead until the final 30 seconds.
Dungowan also scored late to win at Walacha.
Down 16-6 at halftime, the Cowboys scored twice in the final 10 minutes to win 24-22.
Beau Ryan scored both for the Cowboys after the Walcha Jillaroos had beaten the Dungowan Cowgirls 17-12 in the ladies’ league tag match.
At Bendemeer Oval the Bendy girls also won, knocking over the Kooty Kougarettes 24-8 before the Kootingal Roosters dusted off the Bendy Mountain Men 34-24.
New Kooty captain-coach Nathan Hamlin and Mitchell Baker starred for the Roosters in the 10-point win.
Jeremy York flashed over for three tries for the Roosters while fullback Anthony Smith also crossed for a try against a Bendemeer side best served by Bruce Murray and halves Jai Cain and Harlee Milgate.