SECOND Division was a mix of three close games and three blowouts as the race for finals positions begins to heat up in both the Shield and Plate.
The big upset of the weekend was Quirindi hopping all over ladder leaders Manilla in the second half to run away winners 58-24 after only leading by two into the break.
Captain-coach Chris Vidler inspired his troops at home, the Grasshoppers running in six unanswered tries in the first 20 minutes of the second half to wrap the game up and knock Manilla off top spot.
Walcha reclaimed the top of the table, just pipping a defiant Bingara side 24-18 to go one point in front of the Tigers, with the Grasshoppers now only two points behind Walcha in the Plate and Bingara three points behind in fourth.
The other Plate match saw Barraba put a couple of troubled weeks behind them to record their second win of the season, with both their victories coming over the winless Bendemeer as the Bulldogs look to start a re-building process after losing their coach and over ten players since last round.
Barraba ran over the top of the Mountain Men 34-18 to keep their finals chances alive, although will need to be at their best to finish in the top four.
In the Shield, Boggabri and the Kootingal Roosters locked horns, going into the break 12-all in Kootingal before the Roos finished stronger for a 24-16 win.
Kootingal president Kevin Storch said that while the loss was disappointing, the team was heading in the right direction and improving every match as it continues to battle to field a full bench each week.
“We are getting better and getting closer to where we need to be,” Storch said.
“Neither side let up but Boggy were just the better team on the day.”
Despite losing, Roosters winger-come-lock Ryan Martin took the refs’ points, while the return of former skipper Nathan Hamlin gave the Roosters some much needed grunt in the middle.
In the other two Shield matches, Uralla spanked Bundarra 60-nil at home, while Werris Creek ran riot over Wee Waa to record a 58-10 win at David Taylor Oval.
The results see Uralla stay on top, just one point ahead of Dungowan on 12, while Boggabri and Werris Creek are equal third on 10 points with the Roosters four points outside that top four.
This Saturday will see a huge Shield clash at Dungowan when the Cowboys try to defend their home ground against Werris Creek, while Uralla will host Wee Waa and Boggabri will travel to Bundarra.
In the Plate Quirindi will head to Bingara, Walcha will host Barraba and Bendemeer will head to Manilla.