Pencil July 8 into your diary, Group 4 fans.
Because on that day the most intriguing match since Kootingal-Moonbi beat North Tamworth 30-20 in round two will take place.
On that day, a Sunday at Jack Woolaston Oval, this proud Bears outfit, who put on a first-half clinic in defeating the Roos 58-4 in Boggabri on Sunday, will confront the Roosters for the second time this season.
Both sides looked very sharp in winning their round six games this weekend, especially in the first half.
Undefeated, table-topping Kooty dominated Gunnedah in the first half en route to a 38-16 win while second-placed Norths, undefeated since the round two loss, looked like they would put a cricket score on Boggabri after leading 42-0 at halftime.
The battle between Kooty and Norths’ packs got more interesting when former West Lions captain Chris Vidler came out of a brief retirement to join a host of fellow ex-Lions at the Roosters, and did so in style: a menacing performance off the bench against the Bulldogs.
The Roosters pack boasts several former Lions, including Kyle Cochrane, Phil Beaton, Matt Lillicrap and Cameron McDonald. And now, of course, Vidler.
North Tamworth second-rower Jake McManus, 25, the only Bears forward to play the whole match on Sunday, said beating Kootingal-Moonbi in the round nine clash would be “no easy feat”.
“They’ve definitely got a very strong pack in the middle, and we know that they do like to play that style of footy and use their back-rowers as well,” he said.
“Look, I think we’ve got the forward pack to match them. It’s just who, I suppose, brings the energy and the better performance on the day. But we’re looking forward to the challenge, and it’s good to see in the competition.”
Against winless Boggabri, the Bears scored 10 tries.
As has been the case all year, the vast majority of their points came on the left edge, with five-eighth Scott Blanch, the captain-coach, orchestrating carnage in the opening stanza. He was named man of the match.
Centre Chris Hunt, a former Lion on debut at the Bears, and prop Shane Wadwell bagged doubles. The Roos’ only try came late in the match, scored by replacement Hawken Durrant.
Bears halfback Keiran Fisher played his 100th game for the club.
It was a painful afternoon for a number of Roos players, as the injury toll mounted. The quality difference between the sides was stark, although Boggabri did well to put the breaks on Norths somewhat in the second half.
McManus said: “I don’t know if it was a bit of complacency [but] a few errors started to creep into our game at the start of the second half. We sort of brought it back together towards the end.”
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