HE’S been terrorising Blowes Clothing Cup sides for nigh on two decades, and Dubbo Roos gun Lee Toohey had one last big play in his trick book at Endeavour Oval on Saturday.
With the game in the balance deep in injury time and Bathurst Bulldogs leading 21-19, Toohey picked the ball up off the back of a wheeling scrum, busted two would-be tackles and scored the match-winner and a 24-21 lead for Roos, the final play of the 2016 third grade grand final.
An emotional Toohey spoke after the game, revealing the premiership win would be his last game of rugby while also expressing pure joy after his wife gave birth to a son on Wednesday.
“I’m pumping, mate,” Toohey said.
“My wife was due (on Saturday) … we had a little boy on Wednesday. It’s my birthday tomorrow, this is my last game ever. That’s rugby.”
He said the match-winner didn’t go exactly to plan.
“I thought we were going to drive it over to be frank,” he said after Roos were awarded a penalty in injury time, then opted to take the scrum.
“Being the dominant pack all year, anyway, when it wheeled, it was there in front of me.
“I had to beat a few guys, but anyway, strike time, it's all history.”
Composed and productive, Dane Fitzpatrick’s Dogs outfit looked a winner all day.
The Bathurst club led 6-0 thanks to the accurate right boot of fullback Ben Sheppeard, before Aaron Frost was on the end of a rollicking rolling maul for Roos, scoring the opening try of the match to hand Dubbo a 7-6 lead.
Bathurst shot out of the blocks in the second half, Sheppeard’s third penalty goal followed quickly by a try to Tyson Smith out wide, converted too, to hand the Dogs a 16-7 lead.
Unconverted trues to both sides – Tim Cullenward for Roos and Adam Geal for Bathurst – bumped the score to 21-12 inside the final 10 minutes.
But then things began to turn.
On the back of an 8-1 run of penalties in the second half – the final count ended 20-11 in Roos’ favour – the Dubbo boys lifted a gear, with Angus Norton crossing for a converted try.
Stephen Locke was yellow carded immediately after the try was scored, while Tim Booby was also handed a yellow card late in the game for the Bulldogs.
Toohey then landed the killer blow in injury time.
61 | You know you're watching 3rd grade when the 10 jersey doesn't fit the fly-half #CWRU16— Nick McGrath (@nickmcgrath4) September 17, 2016
“Gutted,” Dogs coach Fitzpatrick said at full-time.
“Our boys showed a lot of character. They smashed us two weeks ago. We can’t fault the effort.
“I couldn’t be more proud of those boys. They lifted.”
Toohey was equally proud of his side, the bulk of which tasted first grade premiership success with Roos in 2006.
“We’re just a bunch of third graders, we’re there for each other first and rugby comes second,” he added.
“Country rugby needs third grade. It’s all about playing hard footy then socialising with the other side over a beer at the end of the day.
DUBBO ROOS 24 (Lee Toohey, Tim Cullenward, Aaron Frost, Angus Norton tries; Kayne Fernando, Joe Masters conv) def BATHURST BULLDOGS 21 (Adam Geal, Tyson Smith tries; Ben Sheppeard conv, 3 pen goals)