SCONE will take a lot of heart and learn a lot from its first Central North finals foray.
The Brumbies’ season came to a halt at Dangar Park on Saturday but the final 44-16 scoreline doesn’t really do them justice. They were more competitive than that and were in the contest up until about 20 minutes to go.
“I think just a lack of semi-finals experience (showed),” Brumbies co-coach Ben McRae said.
Not many of them had played finals before. It is different footy.
“Half-time shouldn’t have come. It buggered us a bit,” McRae said.
They carried a three-point lead into the break after a penalty on the bell to Dale Robinson.
It was the final act of a half they’d been on the backfoot of early but got themselves back into on the back of some sterling defence.
“Our defence was outstanding,” McRae said.
Skipper Martin Feehan and Ben Ham particularly got through a mountain of work.
“They’re (Narrabri) a big team. We knew these big fellas would come all day at us,” he said.
“The plan was to put them on the ground.”
They did that pretty well in the first half, and for parts of the second half.
The other thing he thought they did well was contain Blue Boars halves Matt Schwager and Brenton Cochrane.
They couldn’t let them have the freedom to run. The second half showed why, with Schwager and Cochrane orchestrating most of the Blue Boars tries.
The second half was a bit of a lesson on finals footy with McRae alluding to the patience that the Blue Boars showed.
They just kept building the phases, and the Brumbies probably weren’t patient enough in defence.
“We gave away two or three quick penalties after half-time, and once a team gets momentum it’s hard to stop them, especially at home,” McRae said.
As the half wore on the Brumbies’ discipline started to wane, which just compounded things.
They were already struggling to get any ball and it just gifted the Blue Boars easy possession and territory.
It was the opposite to what they spoke about at half-time.
“We said at half-time we need to keep the ball off them, starve them of the ball,” McRae said.
Instead the Blue Boars did that to them.
“We couldn’t get our hands on the ball,” McRae said.
Or any territory. They would have rarely been in their opponent’s 22 in the second half.
They also had trouble controlling the Narrabri rolling maul and encountered a few problems in the scrums.
At one stage the Blue Boars won two against the feed. Another time they scored after having the Brumbies scrum backpedalling.
It was a similar story to all season.
“Against the top three sides we’ve been able to match them for 60 minutes,” McRae said.
“Unfortunately to beat the top three you’ve got to play for 80 minutes.”