Central North Rugby: Narrabri upset Moree in first elimination final

UPDATED:

No better feeling.

That was how Narrabri coach Dylan Duncan described beating Moree in Saturday’s first elimination final.

“There’s no better feeling than beating Moree at Moree,” Duncan said.

The Blue Boars again proved that the form means little in the finals, especially when it comes to Narrabri and Moree, upsetting their arch rivals 22-18.

It was another titanic and brutal battle between the two sides, the Blue Boars clawing their way back from a 12-point deficit late in the first half to trail by five at the break and then from eight points down in the second half to hit the front with just over seven minutes remaining.

“We did it the hard way,” Duncan said, also referring to the number of penalties they missed.

Twice after Jydon Hill had stepped his way through the defence to score and with the conversion bring the Blue Boars with one, they had opportunities to claim the lead but Will Morley’s radar wasn’t quite on.

But then with just over seven minutes to go, Jacob Booby clapped on the pace and cut through the Bulls defence. Looming in support Peter Meppem burst away down the sideline, and then as the cover defence came across flung the ball back inside to find Wade Maloney.

The Bulls did have one final fling in the dying seconds but coughed up the ball, securing another win for the ages for the Blue Boars.

Duncan had stated heading in he thought they were “a massive chance” and was encouraged by what he saw from his side early on in defence.

“When we defended for that first 10 and defended well I knew it would be a very good game and we were right in it,” he said.

“It was just that hunger for the ball and hunger to defend.”

They were aggressive, and for the most part blunted the Bulls’ forward momentum.

It was a game of two halves with the Bulls having the better of the possession and territory in the first half, and the Blue Boars dominating the second after working their way back into the game late in the first half, and scoring right on half-time through Daniel Kahl.

“That was coming and came through good phase play. The holes were there we just had to find them,” Duncan said.

His message at half-time was along those lines, telling his side if they could hold onto the ball they could win the game.

Ball security was one of the Bulls’ downfalls. The other was discipline, losing three players to yellow cards.

“You can’t have 40 minutes of players off the field,” coach Dave Silversides said.

Not only does it put extra stress on the players on the field, but also disrupts your rhythm.

“It’s just difficult to get any continuity when you have players coming off the field,” Silversides said.

“At the end of the day Narrabri played a solid game of football.”

They controlled the possession at the right end of the field, he said, and were very good at capitalising on their illdiscipline.

Sam Callow was immense for them at number eight, while Duncan said Blue Boars skipper Matt McDonnell “nearly carried the whole forward pack”.

EARLIER:

Assume nothing in finals. Especially when it’s Moree and Narrabri.

The Blue Boars proved that again at Weebolla Oval on Saturday as they defied the form guide to upset arch rivals Moree 22-18 and keep their premiership hopes alive.

It was another titanic and brutal battle between the two sides, the Blue Boars only hitting the front with just over seven minutes to go.

Wade Maloney was the try hero after a brilliant burst from outside centre Jacob Booby to get the Blue Boars in behind the Bulls defence.

Will Morley was though unable to add the extras leaving it a four point game.

The talented youngster had a tough day with the boot, and hooked a penalty out in front that would have put the Blue Boars a converted try in front with just over two minutes to go.

The Bulls made one shot in the final seconds but the ball came loose as they looked to try and create some room outwide.

It in some ways summed up their day, with ball security and illdiscipline hurting them.

They lost three players to the bin over the course of a match they led the majority of.

The Blue Boars had the first chance at points but were unsuccessful.

The Bulls went virtually straight up the other end and earned a penalty, and after turning down the initial penalty, Ben Legg put them ahead 3-nil.

Morley levelled the scores a few minutes later.

After exerting sustained pressure on the Blue Boars line, the Bulls reclaimed the lead as the clocked ticked down to 19 minutes remaining through Maciu Latubua, the prop squeezing through the Blue Boars defence.

In a double blow the Blue Boars also lost Morley to the bin, but they muscled up well and kept the Bulls scoreless.

The home side extended their lead with just over seven minutes to go, winger Josh Walker flying through on a short side play from a scrum about 10m out.

The Blue Boars though received a late boost with Daniel Kahl crossing right on half-time to close the margin to five at the break.

The Bulls also lost Latubua for 10, leaving them with 13 for the first seven minutes of the second half after Sam Callow had been binned only a few minutes earlier.

The Blue Boars’ numbers advantage was cut back to one early in the second half with Matt McDonell suffering the same fate as the Bulls pair, Legg converting the penalty to push the Bulls out eight clear.

The momentum was starting to shift towards the Blue Boars and with 25 to go, five-eighth Jydon Hill slipped his way through. Morley added the extras to close within a point and set up a thrilling finish.

They had a couple of chances after to hit the front, but were unable to take them until Booby ignited the match-winning play.

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