After Dungowan No.3 Ethan Collins scored his third try to give the Cowboys a 32-26 lead over Gunnedah deep in the second half at Kitchener Park on Sunday, an unknown Bulldogs player demanded his teammates stop the upset from happening because, to paraphrase him, the home side had a superior lineage.
At that moment, with fifth-placed Dungowan surging and third-placed Gunnedah floundering, the possibility of the Bulldogs losing their second straight match to a former second-division side looked a distinct possibility. Werris Creek beat Gunnedah in the previous round.
Seemingly needing something special to arrest what Gunnedah coach Sean Hayne labelled a “pathetic” display, the home side’s magic man, fullback Dylan Lake, delivered – carving the Cowboys up the centre and then regathering his own chip to score next to the right upright. No.6 DJ Smith converted and it was 32-all.
A few minutes later, Bulldogs centre Adam Mooney crossed in the left-hand corner from close range and the home side were spared what the aforementioned unknown player had flagged as the indignity of a “first division” club losing to a former second-division outfit. Gunnedah won 36-32.
Not that Bulldogs coach Sean Hayne was inclined to celebrate. For the second straight match, he lambasted his players. He said Gunnedah, preliminary finalists last season, would not make the finals on their current form.
“It was pretty ordinary. We were pretty pathetic,” he said. “We got out to an early lead [10-0] and made the same mistakes we made last week against Werris Creek – dropped off tackles and let them dominate the ruck … We’re a long way off where we should be.”
The Bulldogs had established a 10-0 lead after tries to halfback Marcus Hayne and Lake.
Dungowan then set the tempo of the match with a try to second-rower Zach Hatch, before Gunnedah winger Lachlan King crossed to make it 14-4.
The Cowboys established a 16-14 lead at halftime via two tries to Collins.
It was Dungowan’s first ever match at Kitchener Park, and only the second time the two sides had met. Gunnedah beat the Cowboys 46-26 in Dungowan in round three.