NARRABRI’S defence again stood tall to fend off a defiant Gunnedah on Saturday.
The Blue Boars were pinned in their half for a lot of the second half but managed to hold the home side out for a 20-7 win.
“As I said to the boys, it’s the sign of a good team when you’re able to grind it out and, when you’re not getting many opportunities, when you do get a turnover to turn it into points,” Blue Boars co-coach Hunter Harley said.
He almost wished half-time didn’t come.
“I wasn’t unhappy with our first half,” he said.
“We didn’t have a heap of opportunities but when they presented themselves I thought we were very good.”
A lot of the half was played between the two 22s but Harley said with about 10 to go he felt like they were going to crack the game open.
“We had the momentum,” he said.
But half-time stalled that.
They came out in the second half and dropped the kick-off.
“It signalled us being in our 30 for the next 20 minutes,” Harley said.
“But our defence held strong as it has all year.”
They continually repelled the Red Devils’ raids and then, after holding them out, went up the other end and scored.
The backs’ defence was a real feature. Centres Mitch Kelly and Dave Boyle, in particular, were outstanding.
“The way they got up in their faces,” Harley said.
“Gunnedah didn’t look like being able to penetrate us out wide.”
Boyle’s efforts saw him take the two points behind breakaway Tim O’Brien, who was back to his best and ahead of five-eighth Henri Knight.
“The kid didn’t panic. He held his composure when we were under pressure in our half,” Harley said.
For the Red Devils, it was the same story as it has been all season against the Blue Boars.
They pushed them but just came up short.
“We were a lot better than last week, but we came up a bit short,” co-coach Tim Walsh said.
“It was a bit of a replica of the first game. We had lots of possession and lots of field position but we couldn’t score a try.”
They did manage one but generally lacked that penetration and spark to really threaten the defence.
Their set pieces too didn’t function as well as they have been.
“We certainly weren’t as good in the scrums and lineout as we have been,” Walsh said.
At times in the first half they were getting pushed around in the scrum and they turned over more lineouts than they had all season.
Half-back Dave Heyman topped the points followed by number eight Greg Campbell and winger Jacob Murray.
Joe Duffy also impressed again at breakaway and was the players’ player for the second week in a row.