SHAUN Spence was a stand-out for Barraba on Saturday as the premiers played themselves into yet another major semi-final with a 26-20 win over Dungowan.
It only took two minutes for the hard-running second- rower to bust clean through the Cowboys’ line to set up the first try.
“It was a really good and hard contest,” Spence said.
“As physical as last week but maybe not as niggly.”
That may have been the case for most but it wasn’t for Cowboys’ Lochie Collins who was again one of their best.
The hooker made a couple of good darts, directed runners well at times and was a menace in defence but was marked hard by opposite number Adam Russell and didn’t have the same impact as the previous week.
The home side got out to 26-10 and held on as the Cowboys dominated territory and got within one try of extra- time.
Captain-coach Tim Coombes was proud of the team for holding on for the win.
“We looked at a better start and got it,” Coombes said.
“We really didn’t want to give away a 12-point start again.”
The wind was so strong in the second half that the Bulldogs couldn’t kick into the bottom corners and had to defend the score out of their own half.
“The boys got in the trench when they had to,” Coombes said.
“You can’t ask for any more than that.”
“In a win like that, everyone has to do their job.”
The prop knows that they will have to be better again next week if they want to host the grand final again.
To do that they will have to beat Kootingal who had a weekend off following an unbeaten home and away season.
The Cowboys, on the other hand, will go on to play Walcha in the minor final.
Coach Luke Taylor said the game against Barraba was a funny one.
“We didn’t play great and they didn’t either,” Taylor said.
“I was happy with the boys in the middle.”
The coach thought the side let itself down with some defence and poor last-play options.
“We missed some simple tackles and will need to be better against Walcha.”
“Hopefully we can re-group.”
In a blow for the premiers, front-rower Jesse Phillips suffered a suspected broken arm while Brad Craddocks’ ankle was also a concern after an awkward tackle left him limping early in the match.