Two-tier experiment begins in Central North

CENTRAL North ventures into new territory tomorrow with the new two-tier format kicking into action.

The change in structure from the traditional two- round structure attracted some consternation and considerable debate but was given the green light at last weekend’s mid-season meeting.

As such, tomorrow’s action will see Scone at home to Tamworth and Walcha travelling to Barraba in tier 2, while in tier 1 Pirates host Moree and Narrabri and Gunnedah match up at Narrabri.

It will be the Red Devils’ second visit to Dangar Park this season and, on their first showing, they’ll head there confident they can match it with the Blue Boars, if not take the points.

They did enough to last time but just couldn’t crack the Blue Boars’ defence, which was “pretty good” that day, Red Devils co-coach Tim Walsh recalled.

Not surprisingly, one of the main discussion points leading into the game has been converting their dominance in possession and territory into points, and how they do that.

“What we did (last time) didn’t work,” Walsh said.

“We need to do things a bit differently.

“Catching the ball will be one of the big things.”

They muffed at least two tries with dropped balls with the line wide open.

“And probably making some better decisions with what we do and how we go about scoring a try,” Walsh said.

He conceded that, for example, they perhaps didn’t make the right calls on some of their lineouts close to the Blue Boars’ line.

They were probably camped on the Blue Boars’ line for 25 minutes of the 40 in the first half but couldn’t get over the line.

Walsh wasn’t really sure what to make of the Blue Boars’ seeming struggle to score points in recent weeks. 

“The low-level scoring is unusual,” he said.

At the same time they haven’t conceded many points, which will only augur well for them.

“Stopping guys scoring tries is how you win games consistently,” Walsh said.

And their attack will switch back into gear one day.

Walsh just hopes not tomorrow.

That said, their defence has stood up pretty well.

“Since Pirates, we haven’t leaked many tries,” he said.

The Blue Boars have only managed eight points in their past two games but aren’t worried.

“Our attack was probably as good as it’s been on Saturday,” co-coach Hunter Harley said.

It was credit to Moree’s defence, and theirs, that the score ended up 8-all.

“We played a bit of a different style last Saturday,” Harley said.

“We’ll be trying to emulate that this weekend.”

They played a bit more of an expansive style. 

That was mainly forced by the cattle they had but could work for them in nullifying the Red Devils’ forwards.

Simon Elsley wins good ball from the top against Pirates back in the first round. The Red Devils are back at Narrabri tomorrow as the new two-tier structure kicks off.
Photo: Barry Smith 260414BSG20

Simon Elsley wins good ball from the top against Pirates back in the first round. The Red Devils are back at Narrabri tomorrow as the new two-tier structure kicks off. Photo: Barry Smith 260414BSG20

They provide a lot of their attacking thrust and are their strength.

“We’ve got to match them in the set piece,” Harley said.

“That’s where their strength lies.

“And be urgent in our kick-chase.”

They really have to be on song with that.

“It was good last week but at times we fell asleep and Baci (Sam Bacigalupo) hurt us,” he said.

The Red Devils have a similar ability to sting them. 

“Their strength lies in broken play,” Harley said.

You give them an overlap or a sniff from a kick- chase and they can hurt you.

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