Gunnedah's credentials under scrutiny

PPREMIERS one week, the previous premiers the next – the tests keep on coming for Gunnedah.

Today it’s the side whose premiership run Moree broke with their success last year –­ Pirates.

“We’ll know exactly where we stand at 5pm,” Red Devils co-coach Tim Walsh said.

The Red Devils will head to Tamworth buoyed from a three-point loss to defending champions Moree last round.

“In hindsight we probably let ourselves down a bit in playing two good 20 minutes, not one 80,” Walsh said.

Both halves they started slowly but were a lot better in the second 20 minutes, and, he felt, coming home the stronger.

“We certainly finished well both halves but were a bit slow to start,” Walsh said.

No surprise that’s been in the discussions heading into today.

“We certainly need to start well,” Walsh said. “If Pirates get a start, and get their backs up a bit, they’ll be unstoppable.”

They’ve also talked “endlessly” about needing to stop Pirates’ forwards runners, in particular Josh Stewart and Conrad Starr.

“You stop their momentum a bit, you can stop the easy metres Josh and Conrad seem to get,” he said.

The Red Devils are confident they’re capable of getting the points but need to fix up a couple of things.

“I think from the other day we probably weren’t urgent enough about retaining our own ball,” Walsh said.

“If we can get 50 per cent of the ball we’re got the backs who can do some damage.”

Against the Bulls they would have hardly touched the ball in the first 15 minutes.

If that happens again and they only get about 40 per cent of the ball, they’ll be in trouble.

Pirates coach Andrew Verrell said it would be a  tough assignment. 

“I think they’ll be a handful,” Verrell said.

“They’re pretty solid across the park.”

They sit one from two, and are “still a work in progress”.

“There were some very good things we did against the Magpies,” Verrell said.

It was certainly a better performance than what they put in against Narrabri in the first round.

“A lot of the stuff the other week (Tamworth) was simple errors,” he said. “If we minimise that, we’ll do all right.”

One thing he has been really happy with is their starts.

“We’ve been notoriously bad,” he said. “Hopefully we’ve turned the corner.”

“We’ve started at pace and in a positive light.”

The thing he hasn’t, and they as a group haven’t, been happy with is their consistency as far as putting their structure together.

“We’ve gone astray a bit from what we’ve contracted to do,” Verrell said.

“It’s a matter of trying to string that together over 40 minutes.”

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