THEY’VE been a real weapon for them throughout the season but Gunnedah’s reliance on its set pieces might have been its downfall against Pirates on Saturday.
The Red Devils were given a reality check, with the competition leaders showing them they still have a lot of work to do if they’re going to really challenge.
They were far too classy in the backs and, while the home side arguably had their measure in the forwards, it wasn’t able to get the value it would have liked out of that.
Part of the reason for that was that they were guilty of being too reliant on their set pieces, co-coach Tim Walsh felt.
“A lot of it boiled down to the fact that we were waiting for our set piece to win us the game,” Walsh said.
“We were thinking we’d just get up our end and get a scrum or a lineout.
“They forgot they had to do some work to get to that part of the field.”
When they did get up there, the scrum, particularly, did work well for them.
Both their first-half tries came off scrums.
But outside of that they seemed to lack any real punch.
Their lineout fell apart in the second half.
The bloke that was supposed to be jumping wasn’t jumping, Walsh said, and they weren’t able to win a lot of clean ball off the top.
Even their pick and drive game didn’t make the inroads it has.
At one stage in the second half they had seven or eight digs at Pirates’ line but made little progress and eventually turned the ball over.
A few phases later, Pirates fullback Jake Hartmann scored to push them beyond two converted tries.
The Red Devils had been right in it at half-time but wilted in the second half.
What was most disappointing for Walsh was that secondary effort wasn’t there.
“Everyone was happy to do the first effort,” Walsh said.
But they weren’t making that follow-up.
They were aware of it at half-time and spoke about doing that but, if anything, it was worse in the second half.
“To Pirates’ credit they outthought us every step of the way,” he said.
They also dictated how the game was played, which he’d said, leading in, the Red Devils couldn’t afford to do.
Neither could they allow Jake Douglas and Greg White any space, which they did.
“We seemed to want to hang off them, and they were gone,” Walsh said.
Young breakaway Joe Duffy was their best and picked up the three points and players’ player.
“He was fantastic,” he said.
He’s only second year out of school and was in for the injured Jeremy Brown.
“The young guys tried hard – Joe and Jacob Murray,” Walsh said.