The surprise appearance of ex-Eels flyer Ethan Parry has added a sprinkling of star dust to the Roosters' 30-12 defeat of North Tamworth at Kootingal on Saturday.
Parry, 22, was used at right centre off the bench, in what was his Group 4 debut - having recently returned home to Tamworth to "clear his head" after previously admitting to "falling out of love" with the game.
Parry, who played two NRL games before leaving Parramatta midway through 2020 by "mutual consent", did not have an impact on Saturday's match and appeared to suffer cramping.
The former Australian Schoolboys and NSW under-21 representative signed with Canterbury this year and was playing for their feeder club, the Mount Pritchard Mounties. He said he would return to the Mounties in the off-season.
Post-match on Saturday, he said the game was " a bit slower up here".
He added: "I just needed to get out of Sydney for a bit - clear my head, freshen up, get back to my roots."
It was a rare defeat for North Tamworth, whose previous encounter against Kootingal-Moonbi was in the 2019 grand final - won 40-4 by the Bears.
The Bears lost a host of senior players following that match.
And on Saturday they were without their injured captain and playmaker Scott Blanch - and it showed.
But the Roosters thoroughly deserved the win after emerging the stronger from an intense forwards battle.
It was 12-12 at the break, with the home side scoring three unanswered tries in the second half - the first a close-range effort by No 13 Ben Williams, the second by winger Dylan Clarke and the last by second-rower Josh Kevill after he backed up a break by No 9 Kurt Hartmann.
Hartmann - Kooty's players' player in their 46-6 opening round defeat of the Magpies last weekend - opened the scoring in the 15th minutes when he again showed good zip from dummy half close to the Bears' tryline. He scored two similar tries against the Magpies.
Norths hit back five minutes later when No 16 Dan Kelly crashed over, and took the lead when centre Jeremy York raced down the eastern touchline and kicked down field for No 14 Liam Ball to dive on the ball and score.
It was levelled up when Roosters halfback Sam Taylor put fullback Jordan Sharpe into a hole inside the Bears' 20m zone and the skipper scored untouched.
Kooty's veteran centre, Kyle "Yum Yum" Cochrane, said it was always "good to get up against Norths".
The key to the triumph, he said, was "holding the ball and playing for each other".
"And putting in at training for the last couple of months. It showed today," he added.
Kootingal-Moonbi 30 (K Hartmann, J Sharpe, B Williams, D Clarke, Josh Kevill tries; S Taylor 4 goals, pen) d North Tamworth 12 (D Kelly, L Ball tries; J McManus 2 goals)
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