Grand final will be swansong for Lions coach

WEST Tamworth coach Phil Beaton believes the Lions have the side to send him out of the game a winner next week, with the skipper calling it a day after this Sunday’s local derby grand final against North Tamworth.

Wests second rower Jake McLoughlin escapes the clutches of Gunnedah's (from left) Paul Sharpley, Aaron Donnelly, Kih McDonald and Chris Rollinson in the preliminary final on Sunday at Scully Park. Photo: Chris Bath 060915CBA02

Wests second rower Jake McLoughlin escapes the clutches of Gunnedah's (from left) Paul Sharpley, Aaron Donnelly, Kih McDonald and Chris Rollinson in the preliminary final on Sunday at Scully Park. Photo: Chris Bath 060915CBA02

The coach has been playing  in the centres this season but will give away both the boots and clipboard following his seventh grand final appearance, including a Second Division premiership with Werris Creek in 2012, and three premierships for the Lions.

Beaton had the Lions raring to go in the preliminary final against Gunnedah on Sunday, a week after jumping to a 22-point lead over Norths in the semi-final and letting it slip.

Despite the Bulldogs fighting back to score points after the break, they could not stop the rampaging home pack charging downfield, West powering to  a 66-20  victory.

“First of all, it is just good to play like that to get into a semi-final,” Beaton said.

“We went out the back first game last year and I was worried it might happen again after last week.” 

Beaton thought captain Chris Vidler and second-rower Kyle Cochrane were close to their best, although he couldn’t fault anyone on a job well done.

“We really learned from our mistakes against Norths and worked on our fitness,” Beaton said.

“We stayed focused and kept our structure even when we were well ahead.

“That is the type of footy we need to be playing.” 

The combination of Matt and Sean Nean, with Sam Taylor and Josh Moncaster were at their potent best and, with Cochrane, Ben Jarvis, Tom Hine and the others in support, they were rolling over the tired Bulldogs defence.

“It is good for the Nean boys and Cochrane to get another week of good footy and keep those combinations going,” Beaton said. 

“The forwards laid it out and the team is working well together.” 

Two tries to Gunnedah’s DJ Smith couldn’t hide his disappointment at ending the season a game early but he couldn’t deny that West deserved it.

“We weren’t completing sets or chasing kicks well today,” Smith said.

“We were tired after the first half.

“I think they can win it next week.”

In reserve grade, Narrabri came from behind and held on to a two- point advantage to deny North Tamworth a home final clean sweep.

The Blues were up 28-16 before the Bears hit back with a double, the second in the corner to be behind 28-26 with a kick to come.

The ball hit the post and bounced back into the field to leave the Bears hanging.

In the final moments, North had another chance with a penalty 35m out and, once again, the ball hit the post and bounced out as Scully Park erupted.

Narrabri will now play Wee Waa in a reserve grade grudge match that is sure to bring extra numbers to what will already be a full Jack Woolaston Oval on Sunday.

In the U18s, Oxley Diggers bowed out of their first season, going down to Gunnedah in another close one 36-32, while the Diggers girls have a chance to go back to back after beating Gunnedah.

The girls and juniors will also face the Bears who have three grades representing on a finals day where every club is represented in a match.

On Saturday, a big crowd is also expected at David Taylor Park in Werris Creek as the Magpies host minor premiers Kootingal in the second division grand final.

The Roosters just beat Boggabri in the final two minutes of the elimination final on Saturday, Jeremy York stepping through the line to score under the posts for a 22-16 result.

Kooty will also be represented in the league tag final against Uralla after the Tigers beat Walcha in another nailbiter on Saturday.

A Rhiannon Moran field goal to go up 9-8 in the final minutes was negated by a Hannah Skewes penalty that bounced off the post and went in for a 10-9 victory.

This story Grand final will be swansong for Lions coach first appeared on The Northern Daily Leader.

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