GLEN Innes Magpies’ 38 -18 victory over Moree Boars was the perfect start to the 2014 season and the coaching career of Sam Key.
And for Key, the match panned out pretty much as Key had thought.
“I reckoned we’d be too strong in the middle,” he said. “That our forwards would take control and our defence would wear them down.
“In the first half (when Glen led 14 - 4) we did just that, but after the break we had our pants pulled down a couple of times and they scored a couple of really good tries.”
Prop forward Jeff Moat who was the standout player on the field, opened the scoring after eleven minutes when he strode through a couple of defenders to score close to the posts.
Lock forward Nick Ehsman, returning to the Magpies after a few seasons in Sydney, added the extras.
On the half hour, Key burst through the defence at speed from fifteen metres to score a simple try but Ehsman missed a relatively easy goal.
Within four minutes, young centre Craig Browne, in his first starting game for the top grade, forced his way over the line after a sweeping ball movement.
But the Boars proved they were still in the match when they swung the ball from one side of the field to the other just before the break.
Centre Ben Williams’ flick pass to winger Sam Armstrong saw the winger score a fine try.
Moree scored before spectators had re-taken their seats after halftime when Armstrong made a brilliant run down the flank and found half Richard Smith in support.
But the Magpies edged away when hooker Jamie Watts returned from a spell on the bench with immediate impact.
He almost forced his way over the line and two tackles later, young second-rower Adam McPhillips stormed onto a Nick Say pass to score between the posts.
Ehsman’s successful conversion gave Glen some breathing space at 20-8.
Mone Lokete’s second-half runs were creating havoc amongst the Boars defenders and his power-laden charge in the 57th minute saw Moate finish the movement off Ehsman’s nice short pass.
Lokete and Moate were involved again soon after when Key burst through to score and convert.
At 32-8 with just fifteen left, Glen Innes had the match nicely parcelled up but Moree hit back with an excellent converted try to fullback Joe Henderson.
The final few minutes saw tries to Watts with great power from fifteen out and Moree’s Williams leap above the defence to grab a high bouncing ball and touch down and end the game.
“We are going to need to work on our speed around the rucks, in getting our defence set,” Key said.
“They caught us napping a few times in the second half and we paid for our mistakes.”
“They’re (the Boars) a good side and will be competitive this season.”
Moate was easily the best on a winning team while Key also had a fine game. Youngsters McPhillips and Browne performed well and Watts was excellent.
For Moree, Armstrong and Henderson were always dangerous with the ball in hand and made some exciting runs.