NARRABRI Blues might be gone but they are not forgotten.
The young side was bundled out of the Group 4 first grade premiership on Sunday when beaten 36-18 by North Tamworth Bears in the Minor Semi Final at Jack Woolaston Oval.
It was a sad day for the Blues with their Under 16s and 18s both losing to Gunnedah, the 16s 52-4 and the 18s gallantly 26-22 after leading 24-16 in the second half.
The Sean Russ-coached first grade side started slowly but had plenty of possession early in their semi but just couldn’t get across the line.
Twice they were called back for forward passes with little winger James Smith diving over.
Down 18-nil early in the second half they finally found their try-scoring boots with Brendan Davey and little hooker Todd Nichols diving across for touchdowns. Trailing 18-12 they were finishing strongly while the Bears looked tired.
That was until young Bears winger Callum Hayne, picked the ball up from dummy half and raced 60m upfield.
While Michael Skillicorn pulled him down the Bears were in two play the balls later when lanky centre Brad Marshall scored the first of two easy tries.
When James Smith was sin-binned for a caustic comment the Bears took full advantage and backrower Shane Wadwell waltzed over to swell the score to 30-12.
Still the Blues refused to buckle and after burly little prop Wayne Searle was held up over the line captain-coach Sean Russ popped a good pass for fullback Skillicorn to plunge over.
Three minutes from fulltime Michael Watton helped seal the game, after he had started North’s day with two brilliant first half tries, by cross-kicking to Marshall.
Marshall took the easy grab and jogged over for the 36-18 win.
While Norths “live on” the Blues prepare for next season.
And they have plenty to work with too.
Props Searle and Davey give them great go forward and hard work, secondrowers Ian Leota and Daniel Howe were
Centres Zac Russ and Tom Druce are also strong in attack and defence and busy fullback Michael Skillicorn is a talented and enthusiastic custodian.
They are all marshalled by Sean Russ, who was tireless in attack and defence.
He was disappointed and spent after Sunday’s loss, lamenting a mistake-littered match where his side gave away plenty of possession.
“We’ve got a really young side,” Russ said in his post-match interview..
“Most of us are under 24. If we can keep them together next year we will have a good side.”
n All the Group 4 attention turns to Scully Park this Sunday where West Lions and Wee Waa Panthers match up in the first grade Major Semi.