Magpies No.9 Zac Buckley chuckled through a gaping smile – a winner’s smile – when told his 40-metre try-scoring dart from dummy half was reminiscent of South Sydney hooker Damien Cook.
The try of the match came in the 47th minute and, following halfback Scott Berry’s conversion from in front, Werris Creek led Narrabri 28-10 in the elimination final at the Creek on Saturday, en route to a 42-14 win.
The Magpies will face another sudden-death clash next weekend when they play the loser of Sunday's qualifying final between North Tamworth and Gunnedah at Jack Woolaston Oval.
Buckley, 24, would prefer to face Gunnedah, which is logical given the Magpies recently beat them and North Tamworth are, well, North Tamworth.
But what’s not logical is Buckley. If there is a slighter player in first grade you would rightly fear for his safety.
The fact that Buckley not only survives but flourishes is testament to his ability and courage. He debuted at the Creek last season as a halfback but moved to hooker this year following Berry’s arrival.
“Scotty Berry turned up and pushed him up into hooker and away he went,” Magpies coach Ron Dellar said.
“When you’re gifted with speed you’re a lucky bloke, and that’s what he’s got,” Dellar added.
He’s also got good timing. Buckley arrived at the Creek “out of the blue”, Dellar said. And following the Magpies’ elevation to the top grade this year, the Baradine boy has done what he was unable to do at his former club, Narrabri – cement a first-grade spot.
“[It was] a good outcome, I reckon,” Buckley said in reference to Saturday’s win. “Hope we keep it up for next week and stick it to the next team.”
Buckley gave the Magpies eight out of 10 for their performance, saying the first half was “a bit scrappy”. “We picked up at the end there, so we’ve done well,” he said, adding that the Creek had a slow start to the season but “we’re coming good at the end, which is bloody nice”.
“So lovin’ the end of the season. We’re coming home strong.”
Buckley’s four-pointer was sandwiched between tries by winger Brad Vidler, who crossed in the left-hand corner from close range in the 45th minute, and a strong try by five-eighth Harlee Millgate, who went himself inside the Blues’ 20m zone.
Berry converted Millgate’s try and the home side led 34-10.
Narrabri No.6 Brenton Cochrane, his side’s main offensive threat, crossed from close range in the 66th minute, but Werris Creek responded with tries to Berry and lock Jamie Bailey.
“We’re still alive,” Dellar said, adding: “The first half wasn’t brilliant but the second half made up for the first half.”
Commenting on the Magpies’ next assignment, he said: “I have got a preference but I can’t say nothin’.”
WERRIS CREEK 42 (Kieran Williams, Zack Leonard, Stewart Porter, Brad Vidler, Zac Buckley, Harlee Millgate, Scott Berry, Jamie Bailey tries; Berry 5 goals) d NARRABRI 14 (Jacob Nichols, Normie Lawler, Brenton Cochrane tries; Josh Trindall goal).
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