Barraba announced themselves as a genuine premiership threat by beating up the competition-leading Roosters in Kootingal on Saturday. The Bulldogs produced a dynamic first half performance marked by a five-try haul by fullback Jeremy York, before the match was called off due to a crowd disturbance late in the second half.
The Bulldogs led 34-12 at halftime, with both sides scoring two tries in the second half as the third-placed visitors won 44-24.
Barraba coach Jesse Phillips said: “It’s some of the best football I’ve seen the club put together in that first half.”
Phillips said the game was called off with about 12 minutes left on the clock after the referee asked the ground manager to remove a group of rowdy Roosters supporters on the ground’s far side.
When they refused to leave, the referee abandoned the match, Phillips said.
He was disappointed the match ended like that, but was jubilant over his side’s performance. The Bulldogs became only the second team this year, after Bundarra in round six, to beat Kootingal-Moonbi.
Roosters coach Paul Hyson prophetically said last week that his side was bracing for an onslaught from rival sides in the run to the finals.
Phillips said: “We played a great game of football. The boys were very intense and they were just the better side.
“We were dominate in the forwards. We executed everything very well … We were very physical up front for our backs, and our backs had a field day.”
None more so than Jeremy-on-the-spot York, who played for the Roosters in 2014-15.
Phillips, sidelined from playing after tearing his bicep from the bone recently, said York combined beautifully with the White brothers, five-eighth Luke and his younger brother, centre Beau.
“He (York) was lucky to be in the right spot five times in the first half,” Phillips said. “It was good execution. We’ve been working on those plays.”
He added: “Take nothing away from Kootingal – they’re a good side. But we just fired.”
Second-placed Bendemeer also won on Saturday, beating Walcha 38-16, meaning Barraba and the Mountain Men have narrowed the gap on Kooty to four points with nine rounds to go before the finals.
Phillips praised the performance of veteran prop Tim Coombes, captain-coach for Oxley Diggers’ first grade side last season. The 36-year-old rejoined the Bulldogs this season, for what could be his career swansong, after his good mate, Phillips, asked him to.