LAST season a big and boisterous Barraba crowd took the Bulldogs through a major semi and then the big one at home and are hoping to do that again starting tomorrow.
The premiers are hosting the unbeaten Kootingal Roosters, and are hoping to knock them off their perch and in doing so cement a home final.
Secretary Jacob Hawley said the Bulldogs have one of the best followings in the group, and they plan to prove that this weekend with a grand final crowd expected to celebrate the undefeated 1975 premiership with a reunion weekend.
Almost 80 former players and supporters have booked tickets to tonight’s dinner at the Bowling Club, including 13 of that 1974 side that defeated Wests 27-nil in the grand final.
Tomorrows match is expected to be much closer.
Forecast rain has done anything but dampen the spirits of the Barraba players and crowd.
“Both sides are so even across the park,” Hawley said.
“Whoever can control the ball and hold possession will win it.”
“Especially in the rain.”
Both sides are similar and play a similar structured game.
Two good packs, and a match up of Joey Latham and Jordan Sharp in the halves, both at the controls of dangerous backlines..
The Roosters backline has been the surprise package of the season, with a great mix of pace and experience.
They will welcome back veteran Jeremy Moss this week after the winger spent a few weeks on the sideline with a back injury.
Before the injury Moss was on top of the try scorers’ table.
The Bulldogs will rely on their front row trucking it forward, as usual led by captain coach Tim Coombes, with the heavy conditions possibly in their favour.
The home side are at full strength following a bye last weekend, and are preparing for a tough run into the finals.
The premiers have only been beaten by Kooty and Dungowan this season and will finish the regular season by playing Dungowan next week and then again in the first final the following weekend, the only question is where.
The Dogs and Dungowan are both tied second on 28 points, four points behind the Roosters who should take the minor premiership either way.
However, the Bulldogs have a 108 point differential over the Cowboys, who take on Creek at home tomorrow.
If both sides win then showdown next weekend will decide where the final the following week is played.
“If the Cowboys have to make two trips to Barraba in a row it will be tough for them,” Hawley said.
“If we play our cards right we can still host another grand final,” Hawley said.
“But we are just taking it one game at a time.”
“The most important thing for us at the moment is to host that first final.”
Kooty will welcome back captain coach Nathan Hamlin after he had last week off.
Hamlin said the key to stopping the premiers is to slow down their big forward pack.
“It is always tough to stop their big front row going forward,” Hamlin said.
“Especially in the rain.”
The other second division game will see a bottom-of-the-table clash between Bendemeer and Manilla.
It will be both sides last game in 2014 with both having the bye next week.
The winless Tigers will likely be welcoming the end of a troubled season before regrouping for next year.