PIRATES won an all Central North finals battle to claim their third Armidale Knockout in four years yesterday.
The reigning Central North premiers defeated defending knockout champions Inverell 40-10 in the decider to add to their 2010 and 2011 successes and kick-off the season in winning fashion.
They were undefeated, and didn’t concede a point in the opening day, accounting for Robb (2) 41-nil and Singleton 33-nil in their pool games on Saturday.
Yesterday they were too strong for last year’s runners-up Petersham in their semi-final running out 28-18 victors.
Inverell defeated Ballina 36-5 in the other semi.
The Highlanders were a bit fortunate to get through to the knockout semi after they, Armidale and Kempsey all finished on one win.
It came down to for and against, which saw the Highlanders sneak through.
They were then up at half-time in the final but couldn’t contain the Pirates machine in the second half.
“We controlled the football a bit longer,” Pirates coach Garry Walsh said.
From that they built pressure, and against a tiring defence that yielded points.
They also had the wind behind them in the second half after electing to run into it in the first half.
“We came home with the wind and they ran out of man power,” Walsh said.
The semi-final was similar.
“Petersham were a big and physical side but ran out of puff,” he said.
Aside from the silverware they took a lot from the weekend.
They used it to blood some young players and Walsh was impressed with how they stood up, particularly Andrew Bowden and Tyler Gallienne in the front row.
Eion O’Connor also scored a try in the final.
Conrad Starr was again dominant and scored three of Pirates’ tries in the final.
Walsh said Jake Hartmann also did a “fantastic job” slotting into half-back yesterday after Amos Ioasa copped a head knock on Saturday.
“We’re really happy with where we are,” he said.
Armidale took out the Plate defeating Robb (1) 15-7 while Kempsey prevailed in the Cup final over UNE Barbarians 10-7.