WERRIS Creek Magpies and Dungowan Cowboys might have won their fifth-round Group 4 Second Division games against Bendemeer and Manilla but their coaches are far from happy with their form as Kootingal and reigning premiers Barraba roll along on unbeaten runs.
Werris Creek had to shake off a determined Bendemeer at Werris Creek on Saturday, leading 28-10 at one stage before the Mountain Men ignited to trail 28-26 before a late try sealed it for the home side.
In Manilla, the Dungowan Cowboys grabbed a 54-6 win while just up the road Barraba Bulldogs had to scramble from a 10-6 halftime lead against Walcha Roos to win 34-6.
Kootingal also remains undefeated after running in nine tries to beat Boggabri 44-4 in arguably its best performance of its unbeaten season.
The Roosters’ forward pack dominated the battle in the middle all day, with the backs finishing the job out wide.
Jeremy Moss and Ryan Martin scored three tries each with Jordan Sharpe at the controls.
Boggabri’s early mistakes were costly as Kooty made the Kangaroos pay.
Centre Jeremy York had a great run down the right side before a quick play of the ball and great hands saw Moss cross in the other corner for first points.
And that was how the game was played, end to end and side to side, keeping the crowd on the edge of their seat for 80 minutes.
Sharpe crossed under the post as the halftime buzzer went to go into the sheds at 24-4.
Roos prop Ben Haire had an enormous game in a losing team.
His endless work in defence and great running in the limited attack they had earnt him the referee’s three points for a side that was improved after the break.
Despite having much more possession in the first 15 minutes, they could not break the Roosters’ defence and Kooty controlled the remainder.
Once again, Matt McCulloch was one of Kooty’s best, getting the two points, while captain-coach Nathan Hamlin also had a huge game, with some barnstorming runs down the middle of the field.
“No doubt that was our best performance so far,” Hamlin said.
“We stuck to our structure the whole time and the backs clicked perfectly.”
The captain thought that the two “hail mary” passes from Moss on the corner post was the highlight of the match.
The win did come at a cost though, with halfback Brett Cloake dislocating his left shoulder in the first half.
Ben Williams slipped into the role and was really good,” Hamlin said.
Manager Phil Cook said it was likely Cloake would miss the season.
Boggabri manager Anthony Boyce said the early mistakes really cost the side but was impressed by the home side.
“That has to be one of their best performances,” Boyce said.
“We just didn’t man up or have the right attitude and they were just too good.”
“People say that Barraba are the benchmark of the competition but they are beatable.
“Kooty wasn’t today.”