WALCHA almost pulled off the upset of the season at Walcha on Saturday, with a penalty goal all that stood between the Rams and competition leaders Narrabri.
Fullback Michael Cain kicked the Blue Boars home in what would be one of the lowest-scoring games in the competition’s history.
It’s certainly the lowest in recent memory.
Cain landed the decisive penalty on the stroke of halftime.
“Both teams had opportunities but both teams’ defence was too good,” Rams prop Sam Martin said.
Blue Boars co-coach Tom Cullen concurred.
“It (low score) was a product of two good defensive teams,” he said.
He was relieved when the final whistle went.
“They gave it to us,” he said.
Like the week before, they didn’t start well, and forced the play a bit which led to turnovers.
“The first 20 minutes was very frustrating and it just snowballed,” Cullen said.
“Guys were trying to do too much.”
The wet conditions didn’t help and made for a lot of dropped ball.
Even still, Cullen said, they somehow managed to get the better of the possession in the first half, not that they had much to show for it.
“It took us that long to realise Walcha are a tough team and we’ve got to take every point we got,” Cullen said.
They had turned down a couple of early penalty shots, opting to go for the try rather than the points.
“We couldn’t get past their defence,” he said.
The Rams’ ruck defence, particularly, was good. The conditions meant the Blue Boars had to play a lot tighter.
“We couldn’t really play any wider than five-eighth,” Cullen said.
They changed tack a bit after half-time, reverting to a territory game.
That was against their running instincts and the way they’ve played all season but was effective.
“The second half was a bit better from us,” Cullen said.
Second-rower Sam Clements had a big game and got their three points.
“He was really good on the fied. He took a bit of leadership and got his hands dirty,” Cullen said.
Skipper Matt Schwager picked up the two and match-winner Cain the one.
The Rams had their chances to level but, either through missing the kick or pushing for the try, they were unable to.
They had one chance with about 15 minutes to go but went for the win rather than the points.
But the Blue Boars’ defence was too good and nothing came of it.
There were very few line breaks and any break was quickly covered up.
“Most of the game was played between the two 22s,” Martin said.
He said it would have been nice to get upbut, even in the three-point loss, there was a lot to take heart from.
“We muscled up in defence and we executed in the set pieces very well,” he said.
Simon Newton directed things well at five-eighth and got the three points and players’ player.
Half Soni Halanukonuka received the two and Alex Laurie and Nat Brazel shared the one.