BARRABA’S 58-6 thumping of Werris Creek at home on Saturday was a team effort but it was Joey Latham who looked like he was a cut above, and the five-eighth usually is.
Latham scored three tries himself but it was the series of other attacking raids and tries orchestrated by his hand that stood him out.
The Bulldogs playmaker was a constant threat, and it only got worse for the 14-man Creek as they ran out of steam at the back end.
Latham punched holes in the defence himself or spread it wide to the likes of two-try heroes Luke White and Brendan McIllrick as Barraba made sure it would win a points differential battle at the end of year if it comes to that, and it looks like it might.
Barraba still sits in third, one win behind Dungowan and two behind the unbeaten Kootingal.
The Bulldogs lead the point scorers with a difference of 232, 20 ahead of Kooty, but 84 ahead of the Cowboys, who have a game up their sleeve.
Latham still has his eyes on the minor premiership.
“I don’t think we can win the minor premiership if we lose any more games,” Latham said. “We just can’t drop a game.”
Replacement forward R on Wheeler will keep his pants on at the end of the season for the first time in three years after crossing for a try which sent the crowd wild.
Wheeler came off the bench and was a magnet for the ball for a short period in the second half.
Fullback Kahlan Duncan had opened the defence up and got a great offload away to the runaway Wheeler train who crashed over as the home crowd erupted.
The kick-off then hit him on the chest and he wound up again to crash into the defence and carry a couple of them well past the 20-metre line.
Wheeler was just one of many big bodies in Barraba’s engine room who did the hard yards for the win.
He was joined by Zac Mallise off the bench who carried the pack home with great lines late in the game.
Captain-coach Tim Coombes, fellow prop Jesse Phillips, and lock Jayse Starr all deserve a mention.
The final two weeks of the regular season will see Barraba host Kooty and then Dungowan.
Unless there is some big upsets, the finals venues should come down to those games, although the Roosters will be safe if they beat the Cowboys this Saturday.
“We are getting the ball to the right areas of the park,” Latham said.
“When we do that we are dangerous.
“We get great support out here and would love to have another crack at a home final.”