BARTON Leach couldn’t have been prouder captaining Pirates on Saturday.
Sure they didn’t play their best but in the face of defeat they found something and in the space of about 15 minutes turned an 11-point deficit into a 23-19 lead.
From there they held Walcha out for their fourth straight premiership.
“Fantastic it is,” Leach said about winning another premiership.
It’s the third premiership he’s been involved in with Pirates but first as captain, and the hardest of them.
“It was the toughest, without a doubt,” he said.
“But we knew it would be tough coming to Walcha, with the crowd.”
They had to call on all their resolve when they went behind 19-8 with just under half an hour remaining.
“The first three minutes were good for us, but nothing until 15-20 to go was good,” Leach said.
It was error after error as they pushed passes and were consistently penalised for infringements.
But Leach said the feeling was they could do it.
“We knew we could play a lot better, knew we had it in us,” he said.
“The last 20 minutes we really started to switch on.
“There was a bit more chat and when we got down their end we put a bit more pressure on.”
That pressure then equated to points and with every point they gained more momentum.
It was the same in their previous two finals games against Gunnedah, and Inverell.
In both those they really dominated the last 20 minutes.
The difference on Saturday was they had to play catch-up.
The forwards played a big role in the fightback.
They really controlled it in that last 20.
“We played it a bit tighter, making sure the tight five committed to the breakdown more,” Leach said.
He went down midway through the first half after copping “a stinger on my good shoulder”, but saw out the game and in the glow of a premiership he wasn’t feeling too much pain.
The win was all the more satisfying for the position they’d come from.
“We were lucky to make the finals,” Leach said.
“We knew every week was a grand final.
“There’s no better feeling than coming from where we did.”