When Narrabri coach Dylan Duncan said he felt “pretty good” after the Blue Boars had beaten Pirates on Saturday, he may have been understating his emotions a touch.
Narrabri had just erased a 22-point deficit and kicked a penalty goal, via the boot of Michael Cain, in the final minute of the match to pip the reigning premiers by a point.
“It feels pretty good. For a young team to come back like that, they showed a lot of ticker,” Duncan said.
“It’s just amazing what happens when you play a bit of exciting rugby. Sometimes it does beat the boring style.”
The exciting rugby Duncan speaks of was the four second half tries the Blue Boars scored.
But before Narrabri got on the scoreboard in the second half, Pirates led 29-7.
Pirates had a 10-point lead at half-time after tries to Jackson Sharpe, Conrad Starr and Andrew Moodie who scored just before the siren.
Pirates then jumped out of the blocks in the second stanza when winger Lewyn Rapana clung onto a grubber kick from Sharpe to score before Starr scored his second of three tries.
At the midway point of the half, the exciting rugby Duncan spoke off started to play out.
Captain Matthew Schwager dived over in the 60th minute before Starr hit back with his third to see the score sit at 34-14.
With a 20-point deficit and only 14 minutes on the clack, the Blue Boars had to act fast.
And they did.
Will Turner crashed over before a brilliant solo effort from centre Jacob Booby saw the score read 34-28 with 10 minutes to go.
Pirates’ lead went back past a converted try when James Trappel knocked over a penalty goal with six minutes to go.
However, a left side raid put interchange back Matthew Nott over and Narrabri were down but just two again.
A trio of penalties resulted in Narrabri getting a shot to win it in the last minute and Cain duly knocked over the penalty.
Duncan commended Cain – who came off the bench – for his kicking ability and the front row – made up of Turner, Kye Marshall and Beau Brummell – who “stood up to a bigger scrum”.
But the first name Duncan mentioned when asked who was the side’s best was his outside centre.
“Jake Booby at 13, he was amazing, he was the one who sparked the whole second half,” Duncan said.
Pirates (70 points) remain on top of the ladder with the loss but sit just three points ahead of Moree while both Walcha and Narrabri are in third and fourth on 60 points.
Duncan said the victory would spur the Blue Boars on as finals approach.
“It will, because with the comp the way it is, we need to be playing tough games towards the finals,” he said.
“To go like that and play an 80-minute game of footy this close to the finals is awesome.
“That’s what we’ve been striving to do, that’s what we’ve done and we got the win in the end.”