DUNGOWAN Cowboys are more of a brotherhood than most football clubs.
The Group 4 Second Division side prepares for tomorrow’s major semi-final against Barraba Bulldogs in Barraba with seven sets of brothers on its playing roster.
Shae and Lochie Collins, Paul and Ben Tongue, Todd and Matt Wilson, Clint and Corey Ridley, Chris and Will Gooch, Damien and Matt Pittman along with Brenden and Josh Steele have all played a hand in the Cowboys’ journey to third place and the finals.
Nine of the brothers, including three sets, played in last week’s final-round 34-28 loss to Barraba.
As they prepare for round two, they will get at least one more back, with Shae Collins returning from injury.
The prop has been a huge presence in the Cowboys pack this season, never taking a backwards step along with brother and rake Lochie, who was arguably one of their best in last week’s loss.
Captain Matt Wilson will need to be at the top of his game in the halves if he is to match it with Joey Latham and the Bulldogs backline, while brother Todd will be opposite Jayse Starr at lock and also have his hands full.
Todd came out of an early retirement to return to the field this year and has been running into form at the right time of year.
The Tongue family is part of the glue that holds the club together, as are the Ridleys, with the two sets of brothers all forwards, leaving the Pittmans and the Steeles to form a brethren in the backs.
Last week the Cowboys got on top early with two well worked tries out wide, and looked like they might run away with it.
Barraba captain coach Tim Coombes soon plugged the gaps in defence and inspired his troops to come back and win for a home ground advantage this week.
“We had a few out and had to make a few positional changes,” Coombes said.
“We had forwards playing in the backs and they got found out in defence for those first two tries.”
Coombes thought that the side showed a big improvement on their loss to Kooty the week before, but still had some way to go.
“We were good in patches and bad in patches and, luckily for us, so were they.”
The Bulldogs are sweating on the return of fullback Kahlan Duncan who dislocated his shoulder against Kooty.
Lock Jayse Starr and halfback Brad Craddock came off the bench last week, although both will run on for the final.
“We will be better again this week,” Coombes said.
“And hopefully keep improving as we go.”
Tomorrow’s winner will have a crack at minor premiers Kootingal in the major semi next weekend while the loser will play the winner of tomorrow’s elimination semi-final between Walcha and Werris Creek at Walcha’s Captain Cook Park.