PIRATES 34 NARRABRI 20
PIRATES might have been missing some heavy artillery but they were firing at Dangar Park on Saturday as they inflicted on Narrabri its first loss for the season.
The 34-20 win was an emphatic statement, even more so given Pirates’ injury woes, and an important result.
“It was extremely important for a couple of reasons,” coach Andrew Verrell said.
“One, Narrabri are the leading side, and secondly we did it without our old warhorses in (Conrad) Starr, (Barton) Leach, and (Ben) Goodman.
“They make up a lot of our spine.”
Their jubilation was tempered slightly by prop Matt Kelly appearing to dislocate his ankle.
The game was held up for about 20 minutes while the ambulance came for him.
They were about eight minutes into the second half with Pirates up 23-8.
Pirates started brightly, forcing a penalty only a couple of phases from the kick-off.
Andrew Moodie’s attempt was unsuccessful but a couple of minutes later they swooped on a turnover and spread it wide to find outside centre Jake Douglas.
He sliced through and ran about 20m to score.
The Blue Boars finally got a bit of territory and after some good play from the forwards Michael Cain made it 7-3.
Pirates hit back immediately via Moodie’s boot, and another penalty saw them push out to 10 ahead midway through the first half.
The home side looked off their game, and while they looked threatening when they got into their 22, things were too often breaking down for them before they could get there.
Former St Alberts captain Sam Clements has been a valuable addition to the pack and closed the gap to five with just under 10 minutes to half time.
But their resurgence was short-lived with hooker Luke Findley binned for being off his feet in the red zone.
It was costly, with Pirates scoring twice to make the difference 15 at the break.
Kelly burrowed over for the first.
They were in again less than a minute later with Douglas taking a quick tap from a penalty about 10m out and then offloading to a supporting Moodie.
The Blue Boars were lucky not to fall further behind early in the second half with Pirates spilling the ball over the line.
Pirates suffered another set-back not long after they lost Kelly, with breakaway Josh Stewart binned for repeated infringements.
The Blue Boars took advantage with winger Tom Lynch crossing in the corner but then lost captain Matt Schwager to the bin.
As they did when Findley was off, Pirates pounced with Moodie kicking them 13 clear and then Douglas scooted down the left touch to score his second and put the game beyond the Blue Boars’ reach.
Verrell felt the key for them was playing the uptempo game that they thrive on and getting Douglas touches at second and third phase.
He was a handful all day.
The Blue Boars were riding high after rolling old foes Moree last week but were outplayed in most facets.
They had the better of the srcum battle but that was about it with their defence and ball security really letting them down.
“Turnover ball was what really cost us,” Blue Boars co-coach Tom Cullen said. “We weren’t desperate enough in defence.
“That was uncharacteristic for us. We’ve got to this point through our defence.”