Kootingal-Moonbi mirrored North Tamworth’s performance against Gunnedah a week ago when they produced a sublime first half to humble fourth-placed Manilla 52-10 at Kootingal on Saturday and secure the minor premiership.
In doing so, the Roosters – competition leaders since round four in a two-loss season – showed their premiership rivals that they have another gear, like the Bears did.
As with the Norths-Gunnedah clash, the match was effectively over at half-time with the Roosters leading 36-0 following a four-try haul to centre Logan Howard.
Roosters coach Paul Hyson agreed with the assessment that his charges were ruthless in the opening stanza.
He said: “First half was what we’ve been planning to do all year … I told our team we needed to start picking our intensity up, lifting a few cogs. Coming into semi-finals we’re gonna have to really ramp it up.
“I thought we did it pretty well. We didn’t make a lot of mistakes, which is the name of the game, and, yeah, put some points on.”
With one match to go before the finals, Kooty have maintained a four-point lead over second-placed Barraba, whose 34-18 defeat of Dungowan on Saturday was their 11 straight win – the best of any side this season.
Kooty’s win against Manilla, beaten 62-18 at home by Barraba last round, was their season-best eighth consecutive victory.
The Roosters’ last defeat was a 44-24 home loss to the Bulldogs in round 13.
Hyson, understandably, rates the Bulldogs Kooty’s biggest threat.
Manilla, on the other hand, appear to be no threat to either side.
However they still occupy fourth spot heading into their final-round clash against Boggabri.
Boggabri lost 44-36 to third-placed Bendemeer on Saturday and slipped from fifth to sixth spot two points behind Manilla.
Bundarra jumped to fifth place after defeating Walcha on forfeit when Roos second-rower Ben Green suffered an horrific ankle dislocation and was airlifted to hospital in Tamworth.
The injured occurred just before the break with Walcha down 16-0. The Roos, who have a bye next week, decided to end their season early.
Bundarra are on equal points with Manilla but the Tigers have a superior for-and-against percentage.
The Bears play Uralla at home in the final round.
Even if Manilla make the finals, they will obviously need to improve substantially.
Their first points against Kooty didn’t come until the 54th minute, when captain-coach Mitch Doring crossed.