PIRATES claimed back-to-back Armidale Knockouts for the second time with an 18-point win over Armidale in yesterday’s final.
The Tamworth club ran out 21-3 victors to add the 2014 title to their 2010, 2011 and 2013 successes.
The final had a bit of everything – good attacking moments, some big defence, a bit of niggle and pelting rain.
The heavens opened about 10 minutes into the final and at one stage lightening threatened to end the game early, but after some dicussion between the officials and referees the game continued on.
Pirates came out firing and were denied twice before they eventually scored. Winger Sam Bowden was prevented from scoring by a great ball and all tackle from Blues fullback Adam Croft after prop Ben Goodman had come around the corner, brushed off John Roberts and freed up Bowden.
The second was almost a carbon copy, and came about a minute later.
Their eventual try came from a turnover, with Pirates ripping it from the Blues in the tackle and then spreading it wide.
The Blues replied with a penalty but Pirates ran in another two converted tries to lead 21-3 at the break.
The second half was a tighter contest with the Blues seeing a bit more ball and creating more opportunities, but they struggled to penetrate the Pirates defence. It was the cornerstone of their success.
“I don’t think we had a point scored against us yesterday (Saturday),” captain and assistant coach Andrew Moodie said.
They beat Barbarians Black 40-nil, Kempsey 31-nil and Albies (2) 33-nil to finish top of their pool.
“The first two games were a bit scrappy but by the third game we got it together and our combinations started working,” Moodie said.
It was their first run together since last year’s final, and a good hit-out.
“It was pretty tough, five games over two days,” he said.
There was a lot though to like about what they did.
“As the weekend went on we got better,” Moodie said.
“The forwards were really strong for us.
“They laid a good platform and made it easier for the backs.”
The weekend did also highlight some areas they need to work on.
In a carry over from last season restarts are one of those.
Moodie said they would have only caught two contested kick-offs on Saturday.
The lineout also needs some work. It didn’t function that well in the final although Moodie wasn’t too worried about that.
They’d only just started focussing on the lineout in the last week or so.
They earned their spot in the final by outclassing Narrabri 38-7 in their semi-final, and carried that over into the final.
“We came out well,” Moodie said.
The second half they lost a bit of their shape. Moodie put that down to shutting off after they thought the game was going to be called off.
Jake Douglas was outstanding for them at outside centre. Goodman was also good over the weekend, but they all played well, Moodie said.
“We all did the one percenters right,” he said.
The Blue Boars took the third prizemoney with a 19-14 win over Inverell in the third/fourth play-off while Barbarians Red won the Plate defeating St Pats 34-22, and Robb (1) beat Albies (1) 15-7 to win the Cup.