Gunnedah Bulldogs returned to the winners list when they ran in 14 tries to overwhelm Manilla Tigers 80-20 in their Group 4 first grade clash at Gunnedah’s Kitchener Park on Sunday.

Dylan O’Brien scored a hat-trick of tries while Dylan Lake, Mitch Fletcher and Tommy Randall all crossed for try doubles as the Bulldogs returned to the winners list for the first time since their 48-16 first round win over Werris Creek at Kitchener on April 9.

“Nice to be back in the winner’s circle,” Gunnedah coach Mick Schmiedel told G4 Media.

“But all credit to the opposition. They had five or six players play both grades today. I’ve been in that position and know tough it is.”

“We played for the full 80 minutes today. I know it’s easier when you are scoring points but the boys stuck to the game plan and played the pattern.”

He said his side “didn’t change” what was working and was paid the result.

“I was a bit annoyed they scored 20 points. Our try line defence had been real good until today. Every time they got within five metres, they scored.”

The Tigers won second grade 38-20 but had five players backing up for first grade and “It made it a tough day for us,” captain-coach Mitch Doring said.

“They showed plenty of pride and effort today. I’m proud of the boys. We had a fair few backing up for first grade but we had no excuses. The boys backing up played good, Gunnedah were just too good. They were missing a few too and their boys put their hands up. We just couldn’t shut down their second phase play. And they (Gunnedah) were pumped too.”

Mitch Doring thought props Beau Harry and Tim Gordon were outstanding.

“Beau’s been playing with an injured shoulder too and came back this week. He showed up and made some great runs and made some great tackles. He definitely put in for us, And Timmy Gordon was outstanding too. Two young props and both were exceptional.

“They both made big metres up the middle for us but I couldn’t ask for anything more from everyone.”

Mick Schmiedel thought Aiden Davis and Mitch Fletcher were “very good on both edges” for Gunnedah.

Ben Gardner and Rory Harding also earned praise and halves Jono Crowe and Dylan Lake also made sure the side stuck to its winning pattern.

He thought Nick White was his best though, the hooker having a hand in most try scoring movements and defending strongly.

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