Group 4 First Division: Narrabri coach mindful of Bulldogs' speed

Speed causes damage – and so does superior fitness.

That is Narrabri coach John Rumsby’s assessment of why the Blues have been unable to beat Gunnedah this season.

After the Blues downed North Tamworth 20-18 in a round 11 clash at Narrabri on Sunday, Rumsby was asked why his side had been able to topple Norths twice this season but had lost their two matches against Gunnedah.

He said: “Gunnedah’s probably fitter than all of us, and they’ve got a really nice, speedy backline.”

The Bulldogs will obviously rely heavily on those attributes as the season reaches its crescendo over the next month.

Gunnedah’s probably fitter than all of us, and they’ve got a really nice, speedy backline

John Rumsby

In a year in which much has been made of the competition’s weakness, the run to the finals is not without anticipation and intrigue.

With four matches to go before the finals, North Tamworth sits atop the ladder on 18 points, with nine wins and two losses.

Gunnedah also have 18 points but the Bears’ for-and-against percentage is far superior. Gunnedah coach Sean Hayne mentioned the importance of gaining a two-point buffer over third-placed Narrabri following the Bulldogs’ 50-22 win over the Blues two rounds back.

Hayne would know that the Bulldogs have a tougher climax the the regular season than Norths and Narrabri.

Norths and Narrabri – who have one loss and two wins over the Bears this season – both play one game against a leading side in the last four rounds before the finals. Gunnedah have two games against leading sides.

They meet the Bears in Tamworth in round 13, and then confront the Blues at home in round 15 to conclude the regular season.

The Bulldogs beat Collegian 80-0 on Saturday. Fullback Dylan Lake bagged four tries, while halves Matt Brady and Marcus Hayne both scored doubles.