PIRATES have done their chances of earning a Central North finals berth no harm by recording an 85-7 win over the Inverell Highlanders.
The struggling Highlanders travelled to Ken Chillingworth Oval with only 15 players and were put to the sword by the regaining premiers, who are in a three-way tussle with Narrabri and Gunnedah for a top-four spot.
A hat-trick of tries from Wes Rooney and two tries each from Mitch Dening and Conrad Starr helped guide Pirates to one of their biggest victories of the season.
However, Pirates coach Matthew Kelly said his side's work was just beginning.
"It was good to see our boys turn up with the right attitude and put in a full 80-minute performance," Kelly told the Leader.
"Fighting for a spot in the four, we had to win today [Saturday], so it was good we were able to come out and do what we needed to do."
Saturday's match marked two special occasions for Pirates, with Simon Trappel becoming the first player to play 250 games for the club and Richard O'Halloran making his first-grade debut.
"We have had no luck with injuries this season, so we have been really lucky to have good depth in our playing ranks," Kelly said.
"It's been great to see guys like Ritchie [O'Halloran] earn their opportunity and step up when they get the chance."
Kelly said O'Halloran was among his side's best players in the 78-point win.
"He [O'Halloran] earned two points for his efforts and was outstanding for us," he said. "Conrad Starr was named our players' player and Sam Collins found some form in that game as well.
"Hopefully those guys are starting to hit their straps at the right time."
Pirates will now turn their attention to their final match of the regular season against Barraba next week.
"The final four is still very much up in the air at the moment," Kelly said.
"All we can do is control what we can control and hopefully we can earn ourselves a spot in the finals."