Narrabri homes in on grand final

FOR as many grand finals as Narrabri has been involved in in recent years, it’s been a long time since the Blue Boars have played in one at home.

Almost three decades if estimations are correct.

The talk was about 1988 against Barraba being the last time the Blue Boars hosted the decider.

Tomorrow they’ll have the chance to change that when they host Pirates in the major semi-final.

That itself is relatively new territory for them.

None of the current squad has played in a home major semi-final before. Most of their recent grand final appearances in fact they’ve come through the minor semi-final.

“We’re looking forward to it,” Blue Boars co-coach Hunter Harley said.

“Opportunities like this don’t come along very often.”

He said the older players particularly understand the enormity of it.

They head in with a two-one record over Pirates but so far things haven’t favoured the home side.

Both the Blue Boars’ wins have come in Tamworth.

And both by two points.

The second was a few weeks ago and effectively secured them the minor premiership.

They have had a bit of a disjointed run since, having the bye, then playing Inverell then having the week off, and to counter that have, unusually for this time of year, been doing a bit of fitness work.

“More relative fitness, like getting off the ground,” Harley said.

The break has  given a few of their injured players another week to get over their ailments though and Harley and counterpart Tom Cullen have had some tough decisions to make.

One of the most contentious was the centre pairing but they’ve gone with Mitch Kelly and Dave Boyle with Matt McDonnell to start off the bench as cover for the forwards, centres and half-back.

Kelly and Boyle’s defensive attributes played a big part in the decision.

Pirates drive a lot of their attack – and make a lot of inroads – through centres Greg White and Jake Douglas, and shutting them down will go a long way to winning the game.

“Their (Kelly and Boyle) linespeed is excellent, they work well together and both are very good on their feet,” Harley said.

They have, by their own admission, not played their best footy their last couple of games against Pirates – the game in Narrabri they certainly didn’t play well  but there were external factors that contributed to that result. 

Most of the players had been to Keith Urban the night before.

But they know they can beat them and what they’ve got to do. The first round was a bit of a guide for that.

It’s another big weekend of finals action, with four games at Dangar Park tomorrow, and two Tier 2 major semi-finals at Walcha on Sunday culminating in the Rams and Scone matching up.

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