THE backs might have stolen the scoring limelight but it was Narrabri’s forwards who really drove the Blue Boars’ major semi-final victory over Pirates.
And not for the first time this season.
The pack has really become a strength for them.
The 22-20 win not only assured the Blue Boars a spot in the grand final but secured the club its first home decider in over 30 years.
“We spoke about that being one of goals all year,” Blue Boars skipper Matt Schwager said.
“We haven’t had a home grand final for a long time.”
The information is showing as 1982 being the last time they hosted the grand final.
They had to come from behind to do it and, in the first half, were guilty of not sticking to the game plan and making uncharacteristic errors.
“It took us 40 minutes to get that out of our system,” co-coach Tom Cullen said.
It can be hard to run teams down in finals but the Blue Boars weren’t daunted by the 10-point deficit they had to make up.
“We spoke about it at half-time – they were only up by 10,” Schwager said.
“We had 40 minutes to score 10 points.
“We didn’t have to score them straight away.”
They knew if they were patient, stuck to their structures and played through the forwards they could do it.
That’s exactly what they did.
Schwager heaped a lot of the praise on the forwards.
“Our forwards were outstanding,” he said.
They did a lot of the hard yards.
“I think it was them that got us back in the game,” he said.
Not only with the metres they made, but with the likes of centre-come-breakaway Matt McDonnell and Sam Clements really making a lot of inroads just off the ruck.
Cullen thought they were also, through their set pieces, really able to starve Pirates’ backs.
They didn’t really allow them to get clean ball to deliver to them.
Schwager as skipper had a few big calls to make, especially late in the game.
One was with just under four to go and after Pirates were penalised for holding on.
The Blue Boars were well on top by then, and Schwager conceded he was tempted to go for the line.
It was about 45m out, but he went for the points.
“I think you’ve always got to be out by more than two points,” he said.
There was always the risk that they could concede a penalty just inside their half and Pirates could kick three points and be back in front.
It didn’t quite get there but they were able to win the ball back and then just wound the clock down for the last two minutes with pick and goes.
That can be sometimes fraught with danger. You can almost get there and then turn the ball over and either give the opposition one last crack or be caught short in defence.
“I thought the way we composed ourselves and got over the ball was good,” Schwager said.
It frustrated Pirates into infringing.