PIRATES’ backs shone brightly as they knocked over the previously undefeated Narrabri 34-20 at Narrabri on Saturday.
With the injury crisis in the forwards, the backs really needed to stand up and they did, with Jake Douglas and returning captain Andrew Moodie leading the way.
Moodie pulled the strings at five-eighth while Douglas was at his devastating best.
He crossed twice, set up another try and tackled anything that came his way.
It was a gutsy win in some ways. Pirates were under the pump with the likes of Conrad Starr, Barton Leach and Ben Goodman all on the sidelines.
Both sides showed their intentions to play an up-tempo game early.
Pirates coach Andrew Verrell didn’t mind the Blue Boars doing that. His worry was getting dragged into an arm wrestle in the forwards.
That was possibly where they were a bit vulnerable.
“All we had to do was make a couple of adjustments and we were fine,” Verrell said.
“It was quite clear they wanted to shift to the midfield, punch and go out wide.”
They combated that by deliberately running Douglas and Josh Stewart through the midfield.
Pirates led from the fifth minute of the game and their lead from then on hovered between four and 18 points.
“I thought our defence was good. (Brenton) Cochrane didn’t get an opportunity,” Verrell said.
They were quick to close him down and forced him across field a lot of the time.
A lot of that was down to Douglas and Greg White in the centres. Their defence in the midfield was brilliant, with the Blue Boars’ inside backs running into a brick wall most of the game.
Verrell was also really happy with their work on the ball.
“We thought there were opportunities there to try to get Jake and Josh in position to have a go,” he said.
The only real down side for Pirates was prop Matt Kelly joining the casualty ward.
Kelly’s injury took some of the gloss off the win.
It compounds their front -row issues, with Leach also out with injury and Goodman also carrying an injury that may keep him out.
Kelly appeared to dislocate his ankle.
The scrum was a concern for Pirates heading in and things were looking a bit ominous when early in the first half the Blue Boars screwed the scrum to earn the feed after they had put the kick-off out on the full.
But Pirates weren’t pushed around in the scrum as much as they were against Moree their previous game.
“The scrum was better than it has been,” Verrell said.
“But now we’ve lost Matt.
“That’s such a blow for us.
“He’s such a workhorse.”
Douglas was hard to go past as their best.
Doug Biffin also “had a cracker of a game”.
He really stepped up in Starr’s absence and took on his role.
The win sees Pirates close the gap on the Blue Boars to four points.