It’s the astute coaching decision that keeps on giving.
Bendemeer mentor Paul Craig’s positional switch of the two main members of his spine, Adam Ruttley and Harlee Millgate, has continued to reward the Mountain Men, after they made light work Dungowan in a 66-6 win at Tamworth Rugby Park on Friday night.
Ruttley and Millgate, ably supported by Millgate’s brother, five-eighth Dwight, were surgical in their slicing up the Cowboys’ defence.
Ruttley scored four tries – two in both halves – to take his try-scoring tally since he was moved from halfback to fullback to 13 in five games.
In that period, third-placed Bendemeer have won four matches, their only defeat a 34-30 result to Manilla last round on a day the Tigers celebrated 100 years of rugby league in Manilla.
Ruttley bagged a hat-trick of tries three weeks in succession in wins over Bundarra, Walcha and Uralla. It was only against Manilla that he didn’t trouble the scorer.
He has now scored 19 tries for the season to lead the competition.
Bundarra’s captain-coach Jake Deaves has scored 16 tries heading into the Bears’ home clash against Kootingal-Moonbi on Saturday.
Harlee Millgate, switched from fullback to halfback five games back, only scored one try in the 12-try rout of the Cowboys. But there were times when he toyed with Dungowan’s defence, and Craig lavished him with praise.
He said: “I don’t know if Dungowan were in the game tonight, or if they were switched on or not, but the halves played the game at their own will.
“We get one of those [a five-star performance] from him [Millgate] every week, so nothing out of the ordinary for Harlee [against the Cowboys]. He just keeps building each week.”
Millgate kicked nine goals against Dungowan to overtake the Roosters’ Ryan Martin as the competition’s leading point-scorer. Millgate has scored 174 points in 14 matches, including 10 tries.
The Cowboys were lucky it wasn’t 66-0. Their only try came in the first half when replacement Cody Little scooped up a loose ball to race away and score.
Bendemeer led 26-6 at halftime.