Gunnedah coach Sean Hayne has said his side needs an “attitude adjustment” after their upset 38-24 loss to the Magpies at Werris Creek.
While Hayne bemoaned the loss of “three or four players” before the match, he did not use that as an excuse.
“We fell off tackles and handed the ball back to them,” he said. “They were more enthusiastic than we were, got off their line quicker.”
Hayne said his said had to “regroup” for Dungowan next Sunday – “have an attitude adjustment”.
“They’ve got to realise you have to put your body on the line and [you’ve] got to make the tackles stick,” he added.
Hooker Callum Hayne won his side’s players’ player award while lock Hayden Smith was their best with some tough, hard carries while creating chances for teammates that were largely wasted.
The Magpies went into the match in fourth spot on the ladder, four points behind Gunnedah but surged home in the second half, scoring six of their seven tries in a brilliant second half.
“It topped off a big day,” Magpies co-coach Ron Dellar said after the game. Earlier in the day, the club officially opened the Ron Dellar Stand.
Two of the four Millgate brothers – Dwight and Harlee – led the way for the home side – Dwight scoring twice in an outstanding performance and Harlee scattering defenders all game as well as defending strongly and defusing two dangerous Bulldog plays with finger tip control, plucking rolling balls off his toes on the full run.
Gunnedah had dominated much of the first half, territorial wise, with the Magpies defending stoutly and then wasting their opportunities with some poor ball control.
It was nil-all after 30 minutes – the deadlock broken when Gunnedah centre Aaron Donnelly sliced over for the first of his two tries following a Matt Brady pass in the 32nd minute.
Hayden Smith then made it 12-0 when the hard-working lock scored from close range, beating four or five defenders.
Werris Creek scrambled back into the game right on half time when Zac Buckley, lurking out on the wing, collected a wide pass and scooted over for a 12-6 score.
Two minutes in to the second half, the Magpies fumbled a kick and Donnelly was on the spot to pounce on the loose ball for an 18-6 lead.
Soon after that, Magpies No.7 Scott Berry’s kick downfield was defused by Bulldogs fullback Dylan Lake, who evaded Cody Tickle’s tackle and offloaded – only for the counter attack to fall apart disastrously when the ball was passed back to a welcoming Tickle as he made his way back into the Magpie defensive line. He swivelled and switched the ball back to his right for little winger Jermain Walford to scurry over.
Seven minutes later and Stewart Porter created some extra room for Dwight Millgate and he crashed his way through to give the Magpies an 18-16, and they never looked back.
Four minutes later and hard working prop Thomas Brown crashed his way over, and then the Maggies scored a brilliantly worked play which ended with Dwight Millgate switching the ball back to his younger brother Harlee, who speared over untouched.
When Cody Tickle crossed in the 65th minute, the Magpies looked home. But Donnelly gave his side a sniff when he engineered a gap for fullback Lake, and, despite, a scything tackle from Dwight Millgate, rolled over for a crucial try.
Two minutes later it looked like Gunnedah might have created a big finish when Hayden Smith created a chance for winger Lachlan King to cross over out wide but the big winger put a foot into touch.
Fittingly Dwight Millgate scored his second try with a few minutes left to make it 38-24 and help the Magpies salute Dellar, on what was special day for the Magpies stalwart.
“It was our best win of the season,” Dellar said. “We hung in there in the first half. Defended really well. Played really well in the second half, everyone contributed too.”
Little hooker Zac Buckley won his side’s players’ player award while Tickle received the three points in the North West Farm Machinery AGCO Best and Fairest Award but he thought “10 others could have won that”.
Indeed Dwight Millgate had a massive game, his running and defence outstanding.
WERRIS CREEK 38 (Dwight Millgate 2, Harlee Millgate, Thomas Brown, Zac Buckley, Jermain Walford, Cody Tickle tries; Scott Berry 5 goals) d GUNNEDAH 24 (Aaron Donnelly 2, Hayden Smith, Dylan Lake tries; David Smith 4 goals). NORTH WEST FARM MACHINERY AGCO B&F: 3 Cody Tickle (WC), 2 Hayden Smith (G), 1 Dwight Millgate (WC).
Ladies League Tag: NORTH TAMWORTH 40 (Kimberley Resch 3, Leica Le Brocq, Kate Ferguson, Taylor King, Alex Rogers tries, Amy Barraclough 6; Jesse Brown goals) d WERRIS CREEK 6 (Dayna Porter try; Crystle Porter goal) NORTH WEST FARM MACHINERY AGCO B&F: 3 Steph Fulwood (NT), 2 Alina Swan (WC), 1 Kimberley Resch (NT).
Ladies League Tag: GUNNEDAH 40 (Khobi Devine 2, Cathy Smyth 2, Genevieve Vickers, Tara Wilkinson-Ryan, Maddy Adams tries; Devine 6 goals) d SOUTH WEST ROBINS 6 (Jacqueline Murphy try, Jessica Beale goal) NORTH WEST FARM MACHINERY AGCO B&F: 3 Tarryn Heinrick (G), 2 Jessica Beale (SWR), 1 Geneveive Vickers (G).