The blunt trauma of West Lions’ 2016 grand final implosion tore the side apart, with many of the players deciding the best way to forget the scandal was to put Scully Park in the rear-view mirror.
A large chuck of the remnants of that side has landed at Kootingal-Moonbi this season following the side’s promotion to first grade, lured to the Roosters by their new coach Geoff Sharpe, who played top grade for the Lions and also coached there.
A phone call from Sharpe to former Lions halfback Sam Taylor late last year was the impetus that resulted in Taylor and six other ex-Wests players – Kyle Cochrane, Matt Lillicrap, Mitch Dening, Jake McLoughlin, Cameron McDonald and Phillip Beaton – joining the Roosters.
When Kooty travelled to Werris Creek on Saturday looking to make it three straight wins to start the season, all seven lined up.
With Kooty No.1 Mitch Doring not playing, Taylor switched from halfback to fullback and the Roosters dominated to lead 16-0 at halftime after two tries to No.7 Ryan Martin and one to winger Nic Zahra.
Taylor moved back to halfback for the start of the second half. And when he crossed from close range moments later and converted, it looked bleak for the home side.
But then the Roosters, who upset North Tamworth 30-20 last round, wobbled and the Magpies made it somewhat interesting with close-range tries to halfback Scott Berry, prop Beau Perry and fullback Jermain Walford.
However, after Berry’s four-pointer was counted by five-eighth Jordan Sharpe charging on to the ball close to the line to score, despite being belted, the Roosters led 28-6 following Taylor’s conversion and never really looked like losing – the final score 28-16.
Taylor, 27, admitted that he had never imaged playing for Kooty. But after spending last season travelling twice a week between Tamworth and Scone upon signing with the Thoroughbreds in Group 21, he is happy to have found a new home closer to home.
He is also relishing playing again with so many former Wests players.
“I’ve known Geoff [Sharpe] since I was a boy,” he said, “and he contacted me around November and asked me and a few [ex-Wests] boys to come out and have a chat.
“And it’s all done and dusted now and I’m enjoying it … it’s good to be back with all the boys and have a big year.”
Taylor said while the Roosters did not duplicate their performance against the Bears, a “win’s a win”.
“Out here at [the] Creek they’re a hard side to beat at home,” he said. “So happy with the two points but not happy with our performance.”
Kootingal-Moonbi 28 (Ryan Martin 2, Sam Taylor, Nic Zahra, Jordan Sharpe tries, Taylor 4 goals) d Werris Creek 16 (Jermain Walford, Scott Berry, Beau Parry tries, Cody Tickle 2 goals)
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