BARRABA beat Dungowan for the second week in a row to earn a ticket to the Group 4 Second Division major semi- final while Walcha Roos edged out Werris Creek Magpies in another close encounter in their elimination final in two close and thrilling qualifying finals in Barraba and Walcha on Saturday.
Both home teams won Saturday’s finals matches, Walcha beating Werris Creek 26-22 at Captain Cook Park, Walcha and Barraba Bulldogs jumping out of the gates with a quick double and hanging on at the death for a 26-20 win over Dungowan at Barraba Recreation Ground.
The Bulldogs now play minor premiers Kootingal Roosters in a major semi at Kootingal Oval this Saturday while the Walcha Roos go to Dungowan to tackle the Cowboys in the knockout minor semi.
Like Barraba, the Walcha Roos had to hang on grimly as the Magpies from Werris Creek scored a late try to make it 26-22 and refuse the conversion in an attempt to score with just under a minute left on the clock.
“We gave it a crack,” Werris Creek coach Ron Dellar said.
“We knocked back the conversion attempt with 57 seconds to go and had one last shot at them and just missed.”
Props Thomas Brown and Tim Fenwicke were outstanding for the Magpies while Cody Trickle was another standout.
Walcha coach Peter Berry was delighted his side hung on after such a good start to lead 16-6 at half-time.
“It was a good win. I was really happy with it,” he said.
“We did struggle in the second half – they got a string of penalties and we had to hold out. The boys really stepped up.”
Lachlan Brown had another huge game for the Roos while Glen Olrich, skipper Troy Yarnold and little hooker Ben Moran all excelled.
Werris Creek did have some consolation, with their ladies’ league tag side beating Manilla 22-6 in their elimination semi-final and will now play Bendemeer in this Saturday’s minor semi-final at Kootingal Oval.
The Barraba Bulldogs will also be playing at Kootingal Oval this Saturday, a major semi-final against minor premiers Kootingal Roosters.
That enables the Dungowan and Walcha clubs to play their minor semi-final (men) and major semi-final (women) at the same venue.
“It was a commonsense decision,” Group 4 secretary Mick Schmiedel said.
Walcha coach Peter Berry agreed.
It ensures a big day at the Dungowan Recreation Ground this Saturday even though Tim Coombes and his Bulldogs hung on for their six-point win at the Barraba Recreation Ground.
Last week it was the Cowboys who jumped to a two-try lead running towards the northern end of the ground before getting run down by the premiers.
This week it was Barraba who scored a quick double, running the same way, before the Cowboys almost came back.
Shaun Spence broke through a thin defence early to set up Zac Mallise for first points before Joey Latham crossed for his first of two first- half tries.
The Cowboys hit straight back, with hard-running winger Josh Steele crossing in the corner.
A strong northerly had Latham kicking, often early, downfield and playing a territory game.
The wind had the Cowboys battling to get field position and scoring opportunities, although Matt Wilson’s decision to run with it almost paid off.
A 16-4 halftime score was a good reflection of the opening stanza.
The second started the same as the first, with a Barraba try, this time to winger Pat Akers off a fumbled Latham chip.
While the wind was helping keep the premiers in their own half, the Cowboys’ fifth tackle options were poor at times, and costly.
At 20-4, Barraba captain- coach Tim Coombes was penalised for lying on the ball, with the result a try to Cowboys coach Luke Taylor.
Jock Mallise stretched the lead back to 26-10 and then the premiers held on as the Cowboys scored two to get back within a try with five to go.