IT’S usually its attacking prowess grabbing the spotlight but at Dangar Park on Saturday it was Narrabri’s defence that earned it the win.
The Blue Boars were severely tested by Gunnedah, none more so than in defence, but stood tall to get the points 22-7.
“It was more of a defensive win,” Blue Boars co-coach Tom Cullen said.
The first half, especially, they had to repel attack after attack.
“We came out in the first half really flat,” Cullen said.
“I think it was more a case of nerves than anything.”
They were guilty of trying to do too much and made a lot of handling errors and, as a consequence, probably would have only spent five minutes of the first half in their half.
“We would have been defending for most of it,” he said.
But the Red Devils couldn’t break through and, on the back of a bit of “Brenton (Cochrane) magic” the Blue Boars went into the break 12-nil up.
That was probably what broke Gunnedah, Cullen thought.
The second half they got a bit more parity but the effort of having to defend for so much of the first half sapped the energy out of them and they couldn’t really do too much in attack.
“Luckily for us, the defensive part of our game was good,” Cullen said.
He felt the backs particularly were exceptional, especially their one-on- one defence.
Todd Farrer made a strong return after missing last week and picked up the three points.
Five-eighth Henri Knight got the two and winger Michael Cain the one.
It was a game of what-ifs for the Red Devils.
“We did enough to win the game but we couldn’t finish it,” Red Devils co-coach Nik Hannaford said.
He felt if they could have scored a try or two in the first half it might have been a different story.
“Out of the first half the better part of 30 minutes we would have spent in their 22,” he said.
They applied a lot of pressure but just that last pass went astray or they took the wrong option.
Credit, too, has to go to the Blue Boars’ defence, he said.
The effort of the first half took its toll in the second, although they had their chances then too.
“We dropped the ball twice over the line – in the tackle,” Hannaford said.
Still, they will take a lot of positives out of the game.
The forward pack again went well, and in the first half, Hannaford felt, they had it over them in the scrums.
Jeremy Brown was brilliant for them and Hannaford thought he was probably the best loose forward on the field.