For a moment on Saturday it looked like Pirates were going to break Walcha hearts again.
Trailing 25-10 mid-way through the second half, and staring down the barrel at a second straight loss, the premiers found the urgency they had been lacking for much of the contest, scoring twice in the space of five minutes to claw their way back to 25-22 with just over a minute to play.
It was dejavu for the Rams, who were in a similar situation in the corresponding game last season only to be run down.
Pirates had one final shot but knocked on, and from the scrum Simon Newton kicked the ball into touch to secure a memorable victory.
It is their first over Pirates for about six years and how much it meant to the players was clear as they embraced after the final whistle.
Skipper Will Fletcher rated it one of the highest points of the last couple of seasons for the Rams.
But in amongst the euphoria there was a consciousness that there is still a job to do.
They are far from assured of a semi-finals spot.
“We’ve got to keep going now,” Rams coach Barry Hoy said.
“We’ve got Gunnedah and Narrabri just sitting on our backside.”
He and Fletcher both credited the win to their determination.
There was no better example than Ed Cordingley’s charge down early in the second half. Chasing through on a well-placed kick from Newton that pierced Pirates fullback James Trappel and winger Sam Bowden and forced Trappel into a hurried kick, Cordingley charged down - and regathered - to send centre partner Pat Keen away.
Hoy, and Fletcher, felt it was a turning point.
Pirates were hot on the attack and had the momentum after Tim Collins had twisted his way over in the shades of half-time to, with the conversion, give them a 10-8 lead at the break.
“Points are pressure,” Fletcher said.
Newton extended Walcha’s advantage before, with Pirates down a man after Andrew Collins was sin-binned, Thor Crombie cut back on the inside of Newton and strolled through to push the visitors out to a 15-point lead.
“When we got out there I thought we’d take it home, especially with the breeze,” Hoy said.
But it wasn’t to be.
“That last 15-20 minutes they controlled it,” he said.
They kicked to the corners and put pressure on the Rams, and started to get a bit of go-forward through their forwards.
Up until then the Rams had managed to stifle Pirates forward momentum pretty well.
Tellingly too they were able to match it with them in the set pieces.
That was where it slipped away from them in those last three games last season, and Fletcher said it was a satisfying to have Pirates’ scrum under pressure.
“We’ve worked quite hard on it. It’s been great having Sam Martin and Ross and Mike in the front row,” he said.
“They’re three strong boys so whoever you put in behind them there they’re still going to go forward so they’re big attributes to our go-forward.”
Usually a weapon for Pirates, the scrum was probably the weakest it has been, coach Mat Kelly said.
”They put us under as much pressure as we have been under,” Kelly said.
They didn’t get much value out of their set pieces with the lineout also the poorest Kelly has seen it for a few seasons.
“We were probably resting on our laurels a bit,” he said.
“Attitude is probably the biggest thing.”
The overall performance was an improvement on the Moree game but again poor defence and poor discipline let them down.
“At one stage there we gave away five penalties in a row,” Kelly said.
The execution was also “not quite there”.
That wasn’t to take anything away from the Rams. They played the smarter footy and deserved to win, he said.
He thought Tim Collins was great for them at six “especially on the ball”.