PIRATES won a “helter-skelter” clash with Inverell on Saturday.
That was how coach Andrew Verrell described the 60-36 win, with the two sides scoring 15 tries between them.
“Inverell took an approach that we’ve got nothing to lose and played an up-tempo game,” he said.
The second half particularly was frenetic, he said, and didn’t really suit his side.
“We couldn’t get into any controlled rhythm,” he said.
“We like to play that structure and control and it never happened.”
The Highlanders struck within the first couple of minutes but Pirates got to 32-12 at the break and showed some good signs in attack.
“Some of our attack was fantastic,” Verrell said.
Not just in the first half but throughout the game.
“I was really happy with the way we played ball in hand,” he said.
They’d introduced some new stuff into their attack during the week and he was pretty happy with how they handled that.
“Some of our set piece attack was pretty good,” he said.
Generally their set pieces were a lot better.
The issue was their defence.
“Defensively we weren’t that flash,” Verrell said.
“The biggest problem we had was we weren’t making our one-on-one tackles.”
It left them with a staggered defensive line and allowed Inverell to catch them on the hop a few times.
Pirates shared the scoring honours around, with outside centre Jake Douglas and prop Ben Goodman the only multiple scorers.
They both grabbed doubles, as did Amanaki Pakalani and Siaka Maea.
They played either side of the scrum and were a real handful, Pakalani particularly.
A measure of that was him receiving the three best and fairest points despite playing in a losing side.
As he was the week before against Narrabri, Highlanders coach Scott Bremner wasn’t too disappointed.
“I’m not unhappy,” he said.
“Once again, like Narrabri and Moree, they’ll know they’ve been in a game.”
They are a developing side and he thought Pirates’ experience was a difference.
“We were probably a little bit slow in recognising when we had to realign in defence,” he said.
“Jake Douglas cut us to pieces.”
He didn’t feel otherwise they got too much penetration, and defended well against Pirates’ forward runners.
“Our pillar and post defence was pretty good,” Bremner said.
The tries from both sides were a mix. There was some well-constructed tries and some ad-lib tries.
Not surprisingly, Pakalani picked up the three points for them and was the players’
Maea got the two, playing his first game at breakaway.
“He did a heap of work,” Bremner said.
He’s more noted as a half-back but, with countless options at nine and not many breakaways, Bremner took a punt and threw him in there.
“He’s a very good defender.
“And when you get him one on one, he’s very hard to stop,” he said.
Chad Makim and Rhys Graham shared the one point.