Central North grand final: Walcha's premiership hopes foiled again by Pirates

Walcha outside centre Ed Cordingley finds himself in open space. Photo: Peter Hardin
Walcha outside centre Ed Cordingley finds himself in open space. Photo: Peter Hardin

It wasn’t to be again for Walcha on Saturday, missed opportunities and a backpeddling scrum hurting the Rams’ as their hopes of ending the club’s premiership drought were quashed by Pirates 24-8.

After holding up well during the season, the Rams’ scrum nightmares from last year’s grand final resurfaced, Pirates marching them backwards or earning penalties.

It wasn’t their only issue, but it was the root of their problems.

“We were under pressure from the scrum and from that we didn’t get any ball and we were going backwards and then when we started getting a few balls wide we were starting to push the pass and making mistakes,” co-coach Barry Hoy said.

He wasn’t quite sure in the immediate aftermath what went wrong with the scrum.

“Our scrum has been going pretty well,” he said.

It was a typically whole-hearted effort from the Rams and they defended bravely in the second half to keep themselves in the game but their usual precision just wasn’t there in attack at that crucial moment.

“We just didn’t finish our opportunities, whereas last year we finished our opportunities,” Hoy said.

Walcha go on the attack

There were two notable instances in the second half.

Ed Cordingley and Pat Keen both split the Pirates defence open brilliantly but the final pass didn’t go to hand.

“We created opportunities and you’ve just got to finish those opportunities when they arise,” Hoy said.

“When you’re playing good sides you only get, what – we’re talking here about four opportunities two each half.

“You’ve got to convert those opportunities to points.”

The most disappointing thing was the nature of the mistakes.

“We practice at training just drills of draw and pass,” he said.

“To me football is pretty simple. If you can catch a ball and pass a ball you’ll do pretty well. Blokes can do it but you put them under pressure and see whether they can do it with a man coming at them.That takes a bit of work.

“We make them draw, pass, draw pass.”

Usually it is something they do well.

Despite trailing by two at half-time after having had the benefit of the wind behind them in the first half, Hoy wasn’t too disappointed. 

“I was expecting our opportunities to come in the second half with the wind,” Hoy said.

“Because we knew they’d kick deep. Andrew Moodie is a good tactical kicker.”

“We needed to knock them up, work them around and then in the second half with a bit of ball…

“But that didn’t happen.”

Instead Pirates were able to work it from breakdown to breakdown, which is what they are so good at.

“That’s what we were trying to get away from,” he said.

“That fell into their hands.”

The pressure Pirates put on them then forced them to make mistakes.

And while the premiership they so craved evaded them again, the Rams can be proud of their season.

They were unbeaten in the second round and scored their first win over Pirates for about six years in the second round.

Hoy and co-coach Hyde Thomson were also recognised for their efforts in guiding the Rams to a second straight grand final. They were named the zone Coach/es of the Year.

Hyde Thomson and Barry Hoy were named the Coaches of the Year.

Hyde Thomson and Barry Hoy were named the Coaches of the Year.