As members of Werris Creek's 1979 premiership-winning side looked on, the 2019 Magpies provided them with a stirring conclusion to a wonderful Old Boys Day when they combined with Gunnedah to deliver what was surely the match of the season to date.
The Magpies beat Gunnedah 21-3 in that 1979 grand final. And on a warm Saturday afternoon before a bumper crowd at the Creek, it was the home side who prevailed 38-34.
But to do that they had to come from behind late in the match after leading 28-6 at halftime.
With Gunnedah second-rower Blake McIlveen marched by referee Luke Sheather midway into the first half for an unconfirmed late tackle, the Bulldogs appeared to have no chance of winning after a hat-trick of tries by winger Miles Kearney helped propel the Magpies to that comfortable halftime lead.
But Gunnedah morphed into a viper after the break, repeating stinging the Magpies with a series of unanswered tries - keeping the momentum going even when their seasoned centre, Aaron Donnelly, was binned early in the half.
When replacement Kurt Hartmann darted down the right edge to score to make it 28-28, followed by halfback Matt Brady crossing and converting, the Bulldogs led 34-28.
Before detailing Werris Creek's late matching-winning surge, I'll rewind to the try immediately before Hartmann's four-pointer, when Bulldogs second-rower Matt Baker epitomised his side's heart. The former Newcastle first-grader showed great strength and resolve to crash over under the posts.
With Creek players grouped together in the in-goal area awaiting the successful conversion, an unidentified Magpie sternly reminded his teammates that they were being watched by the '79 premiership winners. He also reminded them that they led 28-6 at halftime.
The response to that urging was delayed but effective. First, winger Zac Leonard strolled over from close range late in the match, and five-eighth Bryce Daniels converted from the sideline to make it 34-34.
Soon after that, No.14 Nathaniel Slater scurried over to score on the other side of the field and Werris Creek had secured a famous victory, on a day the proud club celebrated one of their most famous victories.
Magpies captain Cody Tickle said: "I was always confident we were gonna come home, but it wasn't lookin' good there."
With three regular-season matches remaining, Tickle said it was a "very important" win. It snapped a three-game losing sequence.
The Magpies moved to 14 points, one point behind second-placed Kootingal-Moonbi. Fourth-placed Narrabri are two points behind the Magpies, ahead of their clash against the competition-leading Bears at Collins Park on Sunday.
Gunnedah remain in fifth spot on 11 points. Bulldogs coach John Hickey praised his players' "courage" but criticised Sheather.
"It was extremely disappointing," he said. "I thought that the referee had the opportunity to even the game up when Dylan Lake was taken out late.
"He chose not to even make a penalty of that one, yet sent Blake off for the same indiscretion. I'd like an explanation of that."
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