This time last year Matt McCulloch’s season finished on the Barraba Sportsground at the hands of the Bulldogs, but the hooker got his own back on Saturday orchestrating one of the Roosters best wins of their unbeaten season with a 39-10 victory.
Last year the crafty dummy half was in Grasshoppers colours as they got done twice by Barraba in the finals including the big one.
The two years before that he was also beaten at the end of season at Barraba in the red and white of the Roosters, making Saturday’s victory even sweeter.
“I can’t remember the last time I won out here,” McCulloch said.
“I have played here in three grand finals in the last four years.”
This season should be very different with the victory handing the minor premiership to the Roosters who are one win away from something very special.
“You have got to take it when you can get it,” McCulloch said.
The hooker was a thorn in the Bulldogs side on a wet track on Saturday.
Constantly probing around the ruck McCulloch found plenty of room in behind at times, but also gave man of the match Ben Williams some great service at halfback.
“Defence will win you any game,” McCulloch said.
“If your defence is solid your attack will come.”
“And that is what happened out there.”
Big hits and good line speed in the wet was the highlight of the Roosters first half as the forward pack, on fast rotation, put the minor premiers on the front foot.
Barraba captain coach Tim Coombes had a shadow all game on an overcast day, but the shadow had a beard.
Grayson Bradbury trailed his fellow prop and even forced a few rare turnovers with some big shots.
Bradbury was joined by Tim Milson and lock Kayden Saunders dominating the middle of the field as the Roosters rolled forward.
Joey Latham was another target of some tight defence, and apart from a few flashes of brilliance was very quiet.
Kooty chanced their arm in the second half, Williams lighting up the backline a few times to score some great tries and run away with the game.
The win has set up a perfect finish to the season for the Roosters.
The two other real contenders Barraba and Dungowan will now play each other two weeks in a row, with the victor of the second playing Kooty in the major semi.
“They can bash each other for two weeks,” McCulloch said.
“It is a good spot to be in.”
“I think if we dig deep and play our normal game it will come.”
GROUP 4 SHIELD TABLE
Kootingal 34, Dungowan 30, Barraba 28, Walcha 21, Werris Creek 18, Boggabri 16, Bendemeer 14, Manilla 6.