TRENT Hilton might have won his Gunnedah side’s players’ player award but winning the three points from the referees in The Northern Daily Leader Group 4 Player Of The Year Award created some bemused and cynical responses from the Bears’ den after Saturday’s top of the table clash.
That North Tamworth won the game 50-18 and played so well had the Bears in an uproar when informed the Gunnedah backrower had been awarded the three points.
That lock Nic Dobson and fullback Richard Cleggs received the two and one was of little consolation.
“That’s a joke,” North Tamworth coach Brad McManus said. “You can quote me on that.”
McManus couldn’t believe it and the Bears players had some cynical retorts.
“They (refs) don’t like us at all,” said one of their many stars.
Indeed, Hilton did score a brilliant solo try to level the game at 6-all and had a hand in the final try instigated by talented five-eighth Matt Brady but in between it was the Bear pack which reigned supreme.
That might have been their downfall.
No one standout in a team playing for each other.
Maybe too, the fact that hooker Brock Wadwell, who scored three tries from dummy half to help rip the Bulldog defence apart, was sent to the bin for 10 minutes in the second half with Gunnedah’s Steve Yorkshire, ruling him out of the running on the day for the “fairest” part of the award.
Also his brother, Shane, does ride the refs as well and, while he might be amongst the best, his playing demeanour wins no friends from the refs.
Nor should it.
For Dobson though, the two points elevated him to outright second on the best and fairest table, just three points adrift of Hilton.
“It was a tough game,” he admitted.
“But we were all there hitting with our shoulders.”
That was the big difference.
Where the Bears were hitting with hurtful menace, the Bulldogs were grabbing at jumpers, something Gunnedah coach Shane Rampling agreed on.
“There’s a good feeling here,” Dobson added.
“The ladies’ league tag side is going well and so too the juniors. The reggies are going well too.
“Everyone is enjoying themselves.”
Dobson returned to the paddock for Saturday’s match and was delighted to be back and mixing up front with his Bear teammates.
They tackle West Lions in a local derby at Jack Woolaston Oval this weekend and he’s looking forward to another step up from a side quickly building into a premiership force.