Dysfunctional scrums a worry for Pirates

THE scrum will be one thing pressing on Pirates’ minds heading into their bye after being monstered by Moree there on Saturday.

Pirates five-eighth Greg White takes the ball to the line as Moree half-back Henry Noble awaits, and Ben Goodman readies for a run. Photo: Geoff O’Neill 140614GOE06

Pirates five-eighth Greg White takes the ball to the line as Moree half-back Henry Noble awaits, and Ben Goodman readies for a run. Photo: Geoff O’Neill 140614GOE06

It was their achilles heel – along with ill-discipline – in the 28-11 loss.

The game followed a similar pattern to their first encounter, with Moree on the offensive for a lot of the first half.

“We would have been lucky to have five per cent of the ball in the first half,” Pirates coach Andrew Verrell said.

It didn’t help not having a functioning scrum.

Verrell had expected they would struggle there, although not to the extent they did.

The wet conditions didn’t help though. 

They led to probably more scrums than they might otherwise have had.

On the other hand their defence was brilliant.

“That defence down here (half closest to the carpark) from our boys, which we have been working on for sides like this, was the best defensive effort I’ve seen from this side in my 10 years involved in the club,” Verrell said.

It was relentless from the Bulls for a good 10 minutes at one stage but Pirates just kept repelling them.

The sustained pressure eventually told though, with  Jordon Cosh crossing in the final minutes of the first half.

Verrell said he was very proud of them at half-time, and had even more reason to be early in the second half, after they scorched the Bulls’ defence from inside their own half. 

“That try after half-time, that was an excellent try,” he said.

In virtually three passes they were under the posts. 

The usual suspects all had a hand in it, with Jake Douglas running a good line and cutting through the Bulls’ defence and then offloading to a supporting Conrad Starr on the inside.

However it did come at a price, with Starr aggravating a knee injury that had plagued him since early in the game and being forced to leave the field.

That was the turning point, Verrell thought.

“When Conrad came off that was a bit of a twist for us,” he said.

It’s not just what he does but the confidence he gives the other players having him on the field.

Already down fellow co-coach Andrew Moodie, they really missed his leadership too.

They do have quite a young backline and had a few players relatively inexperienced in the position they were in, and were caught out making a few bad decisions.

That was more from not being decisive enough.

“You can’t hesitate against this side,” Verrell said.

He thought they did contain the Bulls’ pick and drive game pretty well. They didn’t really get in behind them too many times.

Their defensive lineout also worked well. The Bulls weren’t able to get as much clean ball off the top as they would have liked.

One of the other issues for Pirates was they couldn’t get Jake Douglas as much ball as they would have liked.

The Bulls did a good job for shutting him out, Verrell said.

Lachlan Cassidy, playing in the second row, topped the points for them followed by Michael Carr.

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