Central North finally prised the Border Cup from Darling Downs’ grasp at Moree on Saturday thanks to some Andrew Moodie magic.
The evergreen Pirates five-eighth slotted a field goal with only a couple of minutes remaining to kick the Kookaburras to a thrilling 26-23 win. Their first victory in the fixture since its exception in 2014, it was all the sweeter for the Kookaburras after suffering one, three and five-point losses in their three previous meetings.
Fresh from a successful two match tour of Japan last month Darling Downs had headed in confident of maintaining their hold on the silverware, but the Kookaburras surprised even themselves to get their representative campaign off to a perfect start.
“It was very unexpected,” co-coach Tom Cullen said.
They only came together for the first time that morning and had to rope in a couple of Moree players to back up from their own trial and help out on the bench. Kookaburras 19s coach Tom Davidson also brought a couple of Inverell players over with him.
“It was a really rag-tag bunch,” Cullen said. “In the warm-up players were introducing themselves to each other.”
But they seemed to thrive on that adversity.
“I think the fact of the difficult situation seemed to lift the fellas,” he said. “It was a very gutsy performance.”
Earlier in the day, Narrabri Blue Boars claimed a narrow 28-27 victory against Warwick Water Rats, while Moree Weebolla Bulls came away with a 31-7 win against Goondiwindi Emus in the first trial match of the season.
Bulls first grade coach David Silversides said the trial was a great opportunity to give all players a run and a chance to get an idea of their fitness and skill levels.
“It was an excellent first hit-up for our guys,” he said.
“Goondiwindi traditionally provide us with a very physical trial and they didn’t disappoint today. I was very happy with the effort and intenstiy of all players and look forward to improving on skills and fitness.”
Silversides is looking forward to a successful year, with a number of young players and new faces welcomed to the club, including 10 Fijians.