HE was one of Moree’s “walking wounded” but skipper Ben Colley was one of the Bulls’ best in Saturday’s tense major semi-final win over Pirates.
Colley showed little sign of the corked thigh he was carrying, tackling anything that came his way and making several strong runs as the Bulls secured their first home grand final for six years 24-22.
“It was a tough grind,” Colley said.
“I didn’t think the points we had were enough in the first half with that wind.”
But he said the wind can go both ways and it didn’t end up costing them.
“We probably dominated the breakdown I think,” he said.
“But in defence, which has probably been our strongest point, we were pretty holey out wide.”
Pirates made some pretty easy metres in their outside channels.
Bulls coach Damien Kelly was similarly disappointed with the defensive effort.
“We missed too many tackles,” Kelly said.
“Take nothing away from Pirates, they’re hard to stop.”
“They’re well-coached and well-drilled.”
Saturday was his first game for nine weeks.
He really led from the front with some strong charges but was “feeling it” afterwards.
It was, Colley said, a gutsy win.
“It wasn’t a game we felt we were that in,” he said.
“But we stumbled over the line.”
They looked the better side early on and had the better of the opportunities but they couldn’t finish them off.
The first was about five minutes in and, with their pick and drive game working well, they looked like scoring a couple of times.
But it came to nothing when Pirates came through and forced a knock-on.
Another time, after they were held up over the line, they knocked on first phase after the scrum.
On another occasion they threw the ball into touch with an overlap brewing.
After that they probably went into their shells a bit until midway through the second half.
“There were a couple of really good tackles on their big players and a few good kicks down to their corners,” Colley said.
That seemed to turn the momentum.
Both sides showed a tendency to kick for touch, or set the scrum, from penalties rather than take the points.
Colley was the one making those decisions for the Bulls and opted for the line a few times in the second half.
His thinking was that with their lineout going well, they were a chance of scoring.
It also kept the ball and Pirates down in their defensive end.