NARRABRI wrapped up its first minor premiership in over a decade with a fittingly strong defensive effort at Dangar Park on Saturday.
The Blue Boars defence has been key to them getting to the top and was a strong feature as they finished off the regular season with a 26-nil win over Inverell.
It wasn’t their best performance said co-coach Hunter Harley, but probably wasn’t ever going to be in the wet conditions.
“The first half was patchy. We didn’t really adapt to the conditions,” Harley said.
“We didn’t play the game tight enough.”
The second half they played a lot smarter. “We were sort of going a couple of phases and then trying to go wide,” he said.
“We weren’t picking our time, weren’t building.”
“The second half we realised what we were doing wrong and tightened it up.”
The Highlanders have been scoring a lot of points in recent weeks, so to hold them scoreless was a big effort.
“It’s always good to keep a side to nil,” Harley said.
“We pride ourselves on our defence.”
He thought Matt McDonnell was great for them at inside centre.
He came in as a late replacement after Dave Boyle had to withdraw with a back problem.
“He really got us going forward,” Harley said.
His efforts saw him pick up the three points ahead of breakaway Tim O’Brien.
“He was everywhere,” he said.
Skipper Matt Schwager had his usual strong game at half-back and got the one.
With Pirates loss to Gunnedah, the win saw them finish five points clear at the top.
“Having the most wins it’s fitting we get the minor premiership,” Harley said. It was one of their goals at the start of the season but will mean little if they can’t finish off the job.
Highlanders coach Scott Bremner said the Blue Boars deserved to be minor premiers and were too good for them on Saturday.
“They played good footy, good structured footy,” he said.
They did a bit of damage with their rolling maul.
“Their rolling maul was very good. They scored two tries off that.
“And possibly their support play was a bit better.”
He wasn’t disappointed with the way they played. The conditions didn’t really allow them to play the expansive style that has been working so well for them.
“The beauty of it is we ended our season today but everyone’s got their heads up,” Bremner said.
“We haven’t given any of these top sides an easy contest.”
They’ve given a few of them a scare if anything.
Tala Vea was their best.
Scott Houston was also good at half-back, along with halves partner Jeremy Hallam.
Bremner said the Blue Boars ran a lot of traffic at Hallam but he kept on making the tackles and was the players’ pick.