PIRATES completed another local derby clean sweep as their finals push continued to gather momentum at Tamworth Rugby Park on Saturday.
It still wasn’t a complete 80-minute performance from the defending champions but it’s hard to complain about a 62-17 scoreline.
For Pirates’ part, it was identical to the first round. Then they also ran in 62 points, only on that occasion they held the Magpies scoreless.
They started the return clash at a ferocious pace, picking up where they left off against Narrabri last week – constructing some brilliant rugby and dominating possession and territory.
The Magpies managed to stem the tide for six minutes or so before Pirates number eight Conrad Starr swivelled his way over after Pirates had taken a quick tap from a penalty.
It was his first of three tries for the game and ignited a flurry of points, with Pirates running in three tries in the space of eight minutes, including Starr’s second.
The home side gave its supporters something to cheer about when it finally got some quick ball and spread the Pirates defence for winger Blair Richards to cross, but Pirates’ reply was swift, with winger Sam Bowden scoring only a minute later for the bonus point.
The Magpies had taken the ball into contact but, in trying to recycle, it came loose.
Pirates kicked through and Bowden had too much pace for the chasing defence.
They didn’t stop there, with Blake Pollock, Barton Leach and Daniel Wallace all scoring before the half was out.
It seemed all the Magpies were doing was defending, and a lot of scrambling defence, with Pirates’ ability to keep the play alive through their support play again a
They lacked the same fluency and accuracy in the second half but the damage was done by then.
“The first half we talked about getting in behind them and controlling the ball and continuity,” Pirates co-coach Barry Everingham said.
“And there was some good link play between 1-15.
“That try before half-time was a cracker. There was a mix of forwards and backs involved.”
“That continuity, linking play and close support play was pleasing.”
They are trademarks of Pirates’ game.
“The second half we made a few errors,” Everingham said.
“We got penalised a lot.”
“But they competed well at the breakdown. It was a dog-fight there.”
Pollock also chimed in with a double and was among Pirates’ best, along with Starr, and Jake Hartmann.
Despite the scoreline there were some positive signs for the Magpies.
They opened the scoring in the second half, with winger Ben Coombes chasing through on a well weighted grubber from half-back Nick Humphries, and were pressing hard for the bonus point try, but their execution just let them down at times.
“We still made too many mistakes and Pirates punished us,” Magpies co-coach Joe Goldsworthy said.
He thought though they did keep the ball better than they have been, at least in the second half.
“We did some good things,” he said.
“I was really pleased with the scrum, and the forwards and the work at the breakdown.
“It was pretty ferocious.”
The usual suspects shone for them, with Nick Wall, Ben McInnes, Rhys Duncan and Humphries all having strong games.