It was billed as a thrilling top-of-the-table clash, but the Darlington Point-Coleambally (DPC) Roosters had other plans after belting the Leeton Galloping Greens 40-6 in Round Six of the Group 20 competition.
Playing in Leeton on Sunday, the Roosters piled on the points, scoring a seven-tries-to-one victory, and it was a Leeton product coming back to wreak havoc on the Greens, with Joe Peato scoring a hat-trick of tries.
Ben Vearing joined in the fun to finish with a brace while Ben Jeffery and Luke Hogan both crossed as the Roosters finished comfortable winners to secure outright top spot on the competition ladder following their unbeaten start to the 2022 season.
Peato said there was a good feeling around the DPC playing group in the lead-up to their much-anticipated match against the Greens.
“For the first few rounds, we were winning but we weren’t playing at our best, and we were getting ahead but letting teams back into games and discipline was hurting us,” Peato said.
“I think that game against Leeton, it changed a lot of things, and you could see it all week in the lead-up to the game.
“The way we were training and doing plays and buying in; you could see the boys really wanted to win.
“Then Robbie Simpson, who is probably our best go-forward player and fittest forward; he injured his hand halfway through the week and couldn’t play, and that was a big loss, but the boys just put in and played well and got the win.”
Peato, who was born and bred in Leeton, played his junior footy in Griffith before moving to Campbeltown as a teenager.
He has since been around the traps, coming through the Wests Tigers junior representative system before spending stints with Parramatta, St George and a year in the Penrith Panthers NRL system before a shoulder injured derailed his dreams of one day playing top grade Rugby League.
Following a stint with the North Devils in the Queensland Cup competition, the 26-year-old moved back home.
After a year with the Griffith Black and Whites in 2021, the chance to play and learn under former NRL player, country Rugby League legend and Roosters captain/coach, Ben Jeffery was too hard to pass up, and the talented outside back is now settled with the DPC Roosters.
“He was a massive reason why I went there, and that is how we convinced Jonny (Sila) to come too because you don’t often get that type of player in country footy, and I wanted to pick his brain and learn from him.” Peato said.
“It’s good too. Benny will come up and talk to you, and ask you want you think and let you have your imprint on the game and play the way you want to, which is great.”
Peato is enjoying his time as a Rooster too, with the club welcoming him and fellow recruit Jonathan Sila.
“It’s just a good club culturally, and there are no egos or anything, and there is no pressure,” Peato said.
“Plus, when me and Jonny went there, we were quiet and that, but you had the old boys come up and talk to us, and same with the ladies from the committee and the kids, and we were really welcomed by the club.”
Following their big win over Leeton, the Roosters don’t want to clock off, with Peato explaining that they would be up and firing for each of their Group 20 matches in 2022.
“Benny made us do 2.5km of running after we beat Leeton,” Peato laughed.
“He wants us going into each game with a level head, knowing it will be a hard game, if not that, but he wants us thinking we are the underdogs.
“He wants us to come out harder each time we play, and right now, we are taking it one week at a time, and we know how good we can be, but we need to work hard to get to that point.”
The Roosters will no doubt have a target on their back after such a hot start, and Peato believes the playing group will thrive under the pressure.
“From the group of boys that we have, I think we would look at it as a positive,” Peato said.
“Yeah, teams will want to come out at their best and try and beat us, but for us, we’ll just think, ‘let’s have a crack then’ and get into that arm wrestle.
“That’s the mentality of our team, we know if we look left and right, we’ve got our mates out there and we want to win.”
Peato and the Roosters will face another good test on Sunday in round seven of the Group 20 competition when visiting the Griffith Waratahs.
Group 20 Round Six results: Darlington Point-Coleambally def Leeton 40-6; Yenda def Tullibigeal-Lake Cargelligo 64-18; West Wyalong def Yanco-Wamoon 64-18; Griffith Black and Whites def Hay 32-10.
Group 20 Round Seven draw: Hay v West Wyalong; Griffith Waratahs v Darlington Point-Coleambally; Yanco Wamoon v Yenda; Tullibigeal-Lake Cargelligo v Leeton.
Group 20 ladder: Darlington Point-Coleambally 12, Leeton 10, Griffith Black and Whites 8, Griffith Tigers 8, Hay 6, West Wyalong 6, Yenda 4, Tullibigeal-Lake Cargelligo 4, Yanco Wamoon 2.
Group 9 Round Five results: Gundagai def Young 36-14; Tumut def Southcity 42-16; Temora def Brothers 26-16.
Group 9 Round Six draw: Temora v Tumut; Gundagai v Kangaroos; Southcity v Young; Brothers and Albury on the bye.
Group 9 ladder: Gundagai 10, Temora 10, Young 8, Kangaroos 6, Tumut 4, Brothers 4, Albury 4, Southcity 2.
Proten Cup Round One results: Goolgowi 16 def Rankins Springs 10; Ivanhoe 34 def Barellan 16; Narrandera 38 def Hillston 10.
Proten Cup Round Two draw: Barellan v Hillston; Goolgowi v Narrandera; Rankin Springs v Ivanhoe.
Proten Cup men’s standings: Narrandera 2, Ivanhoe 2, Goolgowi 2, Rankin Springs 0, Barellan 0, Hillston.