GUNNEDAH showed it isn’t giving up the second grade title it waited over three decades for without a fight at Dangar Park on Saturday.
The Red Devils produced a dominant minor semi-final display to beat Pirates 23-nil and keep their premiership defence alive.
They never really gave Pirates a chance, and by half-time were 17-points up.
“It was an excellent first half,” coach Tim Walsh said.
“I was pretty impressed with their second half (too).
“The penalties started to flow the other way but they kept their cool.”
Next to the win probably the most pleasing thing for him was the defensive effort and zero next to Pirates.
“It’s the first time in a long time we’ve showed we can control a game,” he said.
They certainly did that on Saturday.
“We held the ball for long periods of time and held the field position,” Walsh said.
He said Sam Beer’s try in the shades of half-time was decisive.
“It takes it from 10-17,” he said.
It was a psychological boost for them, and blow for Pirates.
“They’ve got to come out and score four times,” he said.
“It was pretty evident for Pirates that as time went along the pressure was building on them.”
Not that they could do much about it with the Red Devils virtually camped in their half in the second half.
Anytime Pirates got the ball they had to work it out of their half and could find little way through the Red Devils defence.
The Red Devils could only manage a couple of penalty goals in the second half, but did create some chances. They just couldn’t quite finish it off.
But by controlling the amount of possession that they did, it didn’t really matter.
The forwards did start a bit slowly but once they got going really laid the platform with the driving lineout, as it has been all season, a real weapon.
Skipper Rob Weinthol led from the front and with Greg Campbell got through a mountain of work. Half-back Euan Smith was also good, as were the outside backs.
“We made lots of metres out wide,” Walsh said.
Pirates co-coach Col Easter agreed.
“On the edges they caused us a bit of grief,” Easter said.
He said they just blew them away in the first half.
“We didn’t have any ball at all in the first half,” he said.
The second half wasn’t much different, and a bit of ill discipline didn’t help, he said.
It kept the penalties going Gunnedah’s way.
They are though a very young side.
“To their credit they kept Gunnedah tryless in their second half,” Easter said.
Jacob Budd, Tony O’Donnell and Tyler Gallienne were their best.
Earlier Narrabri, even more comprehensively, blew Inverell away in the first half of the U18s semi.
They led 34-5 at half-time on the back of four tries to outstanding young fullback Dean Wilson.