Central North grand final: Moree Bulls look to defend second grade premiership against Narrabri Blue Boars

On the attack: Moree inside centre Jacob Cutcliffe takes on the Narrabri defence during the qualifying final.
On the attack: Moree inside centre Jacob Cutcliffe takes on the Narrabri defence during the qualifying final.

Moree Weebolla Bulls will be looking to defend their second grade premiership title when they face arch-rivals Narrabri Blue Boars in this Saturday’s Central North Rugby Union grand final.

The clash between the rival clubs will be a re-match of the 2017 second grade grand final, with the Bulls hoping to repeat last year’s close victory to secure their fifth premiership in six years. 

The last time the two sides met was in the major semi-final in Tamworth two weeks earlier, when the Bulls pulled off an incredible 24-17 victory after trailing 17-7 at half-time.​

Two weeks prior to that the Bulls also defeated the Blue Boars to claim the 2018 minor premiership, while Narrabri were the victors earlier in the season.

Following Narrabri’s runaway 46-14 victory against Pirates at Weebolla Oval last Saturday, Bulls president Paul King expects Saturday to be a tough match.

Narrabri will be tough to beat; it’s always a close match against Narrabri

Moree president Paul King

“I think it’ll be a very close game,” he said.

“Narrabri will be tough to beat; it’s always a close match against Narrabri.

“Grand finals are a funny game; you never know what’s going to happen. You can’t take anything for granted.”

This Saturday will be particularly poignant for the second grade side, who tragically lost their coach Nathan Holland at the start of the season. Holland won’t be far from the boys’ minds when they take the field.

Similarly the Blue Boars will have Wade Maloney in their thoughts after the centre was tragically killed while on holidays in the United States between the qualifying and preliminary finals.

They were though able to rally from what was a tough week to produce what was in coach Craig Summer’s assessment “the best football that we’ve played”. 

“We did all the simple things right and played for the whole 70 minutes,” Summers said.

“We held the ball better than we have been, and put them under a lot of pressure.”

He has named an unchanged starting side and stressed the importance of playing for the full 70 minutes against the Bulls.

“We took off to a 17-nil lead and let them back into the game,” he said of two weeks ago.

“We’ve got to defend well for the whole game.

“And hold onto the ball.”

The Bulls dominated possession in the second half and when the Blue Boars did get their hands on the ball, they weren’t able to hold it for long enough to sustain any pressure. 

However Summers said there is a lot they can draw from the way they played for the majority of that first half.

“If we can play like we did the first 30 minutes but for 60 or 70, I’m quite certain we can give it a shake,” he said.

He spoke about needing to nullify the big Bulls pack but said their focus has really been on their own game and making sure they’re doing the ‘one percenters’.