IT’S only three games in but already the top tier competition is throwing up plenty of twists and turns.
First, Moree travelled down to Tamworth and knocked over Pirates. Then Narrabri rolled the Bulls at home.
Pirates then on Saturday handed the Blue Boars their first defeat of the season, condensing the gap between the three to just four points.
The 34-20 loss was disappointing for the Blue Boars to swallow, both for the result itself and the performance, especially defensively.
It was their worst defensive effort of the season.
“It was just uncharacteristic of our defence to let those tries in,” co-coach Tom Cullen said.
“Whether it was enthusiasm or guys ready for the bye. We’ve never let that many tries in.
“To let them get into that space was disappointing.”
Their defence after all has been what has got them into the position they’re in.
The thing that really cruelled them was turnovers.
“A lot of their tries came from turnover ball,” Cullen said.
“We couldn’t secure our ball.”
They were turning it over after three or four phases, either at the ruck or by just spilling it cold.
Their attack seemed to lack the punch it has in other games and they weren’t able to build off the strong platform they had from the set pieces.
“I thought we dominated the set pieces,” Cullen said.
The lineout was strong and they had Pirates’ scrum under pressure.
That only fuelled the disappointment.
“To lose a game and own the set pieces shows we were outclassed in every other facet,” he said.
He said they also lost the kicking game.
In the first half they were playing into the wind but didn’t use it to their advantage in the second half.
In contrast, Pirates’ kickers, in particular Andrew Moodie and Jake Hartmann, were constantly turning them around.
Another thing that hurt the Blue Boars was their discipline, whether through gifting Pirates the opportunity for points or stalling their own momentum.
Several times they were pinged for holding on.
They also twice lost players to the bin. Luke Findley was yellow-carded in the first half for being off his feet in the red zone.
Then in the second half, captain Matt Schwager was binned for repeated offside team infringements.
Both times Pirates scored points.
Cullen felt a lot of the penalties they gave away were “just frustration”.
They were chasing the game from the first few minutes.
It’s a situation they hadn’t really been in since Pirates in the first round.
Winger Tom Lynch was their most threatening and got the three points to go with his two tries.
Beau Brummell got the two and Michael Cain the one.The Blue Boars have the bye this week and will look to use it to recuperate.
“We said to the boys don’t think about footy,” Cullen said.