Central North grand final: Pirates finish on top again

Pirates delivered a clinical and emphatic grand final performance to cement their dynasty at a packed an sun-soaked Ken Chillingworth Oval on Saturday.

Crunch: Pirates breakaway Sam Collins wraps up Walcha fullback Harry Locke ball and all during Saturday's grand final. Photo: Peter Hardin

Crunch: Pirates breakaway Sam Collins wraps up Walcha fullback Harry Locke ball and all during Saturday's grand final. Photo: Peter Hardin

In defeating Walcha 24-8 they became only the second club to have twice won three consecutive first grade premierships.

Moree are the other to have achieved the feat, winning four straight between 1998 and 2001, before, after relinquishing the title to Narrabri in 2002, winning it the next three years.

Pirates have now claimed the silverware seven of the last 10 seasons, with Saturday’s triumph following titles in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2016 and 2017.

It is a remarkable effort, and testament to not only the work the club as a whole has put in but what a special group of players they have been fortunate to have with the nucleus of the side featuring in multiple of those successes.

This season they weren’t always at the top of their game, but they were when it mattered.

And it was the two areas of their game that they had come under the most scrutiny for, that the victory was built off - their defence and their scrum.

Pirates coach Mat Kelly conceded to feeling “a bit more emotional” about Saturday’s premiership than the previous two.

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“It means a lot to the boys. Obviously we’re getting on in years and things get a bit harder with the family and all that sort of stuff,” he said.

“I think this one we paid a bit more attention on how much it would mean if we could get it done.”

“It was great to send Benny (Goodman) out and the other boys the way they deserve to go out. They put in the effort every week.”

“We started back in January, they’ve never missed a training session, they’ve all put in. We’ve battled through and it was good to come away with it at the end.”

He said it had been a massive club effort.

“We’ve had to call on blokes week in week out,” Kelly said.

The count was something like 43 players they used in first grade this season.

On Saturday Kelly only used the one sub.

“It was great to see that the see that the 16 boys that played repaid everyone else that’s done the work throughout the year to get them there,” he said.

Earlier Inverell were crowned the first-ever women’s 7s champions after producing a stunning display to down Gunnedah 37-5.

Champions: Brendan Rixon, Ben Goodman, Conrad Starr hold aloft Pirates' silverware haul. Photo: Peter Hardin

Champions: Brendan Rixon, Ben Goodman, Conrad Starr hold aloft Pirates' silverware haul. Photo: Peter Hardin

The trophy spoils were shared around with Narrabri claiming their first second grade premiership since 2011 with a 15-5 win over arch-rivals and reigning premiers Moree, while Farrer defeated Pirates 47-22 in the under-19s.