A DOMINANT second-half display from Pirates and two crucial errors from Tamworth handed Pirates a 40-11 Central North local derby win at Tamworth’s Rugby Park on Saturday.
When the Magpies’ kick-off went out on the full it was an ominous sign of things to come for the hosts.
From the scrum re-start at halfway, Pirates halfback Cameron Young darted down the wide open right side.
Young linked up with fullback Jake Hartmann who drew in the one defender before slipping it to Ned O’Neill-Shaw who scored his first of two at the one minute and 15 second mark.
The Magpies switched on after that and were quickly in the game at the other end, with Adam Penman slotting a penalty, and then another to lead 6-5.
The two sides wrestled for possession and territory, and the Magpies were doing a good job of slowing down the Pirates forwards and containing the backs.
Harry Veitch, James Bracken and new recruit Mitch Wheaton were working overtime in defence and at the breakdowns, although Pirates were starting to look dangerous with the ball in hand.
In the shadows of halftime the Magpies had another kick off and this time kicked it dead.
Once again they were marched back to halfway for a scrum before Conrad Starr wandered through the line in close and then had a storming run downfield.
This time it was Hartmann who finished in the right corner after getting a ball from Andrew Moodie, who then proceeded to slot the shot from the line.
The almost identical tries just about had Magpies coach Ross Duncan speechless, although by all reports he found his voice in the change room after the Magpies went in down 18-6.
“It is really disappointing,” Duncan said.
“Ball out on the full and a try and a ball out dead and a try. They are simple mistakes but they cost us 12 points.”
Tamworth was showing glimpses of good football in both halves but Pirates were playing as a much more structured outfit.
New Magpies fly half Brendan Hunt has a beautiful pass and threw several cut-out balls but the ball runners and lines were just not there.
It also took Hunt until 10 minutes into the second half before he took on the line himself.
His counterpart, Andrew Moodie, was causing a lot of problems and crossed the line twice doing the same thing on the other side.
With Jake Douglas back at outside centre, the Pirates backline had a lot more punch in it than last week.
The closing stages of the game saw Pirates dominating the breakdowns and eating up territory with phase play leading to a couple of tries.
Moodie ended up with a personal tally of 25 points including a brace of tries.
Starr also impressed with a lot of strong ball running and hard defence.
Pirates coach Andrew Verrell was pleased with his side’s structural play and the execution.
“We did a few good things last week but did a lot more good things this week,” Verrell said.
“Our phase play and sequences were a lot better and we got another bonus point.”
Central North rugby will now break for Easter.
When rugby returns, Tamworth will have a do or die clash against Barraba who will also be desperate after losing two on the trot, while Pirates will host dark horses Gunnedah.