Walcha had too much speed and potency for Gunnedah in their Tier 1 match-up at Gunnedah on Saturday.
The Rams showed why they are sitting second as they accounted for the Red Devils 53-24 in a performance punctuated by some brilliant attack from their much-vaunted backs.
Still, it wasn’t until late in the game that they were able to shake off the home side, with only 12 points in it with 15 minutes to go.
Simon Newton pushed the Rams beyond two converted tries with just over 12 minutes remaining, before Dom Bower crossed for his second of the game to seal the victory.
Centre Ed Cordingley also scored a double and was prominent in what was a dominant first half from the Rams.
It didn’t always click for them but when it did, it was pretty to watch, the speed they played with and swung the ball along the backline leaving the Red Devils scrambling.
They pretty much survived off scraps in the first half, with the Rams controlling territory and possession.
It was only really Walcha’s mistakes that kept the Red Devils in it, both of their tries coming off errors from the Rams.
The risk of the attacking and expansive game that makes them so dangerous, they were rare blemishes in what Rams co-coach Andrew Crawford thought was a fairly clinical display.
They led 29-17 at the break, Newton missing a penalty just inside the Rams half after the half-time buzzer.
Bower extended their advantage a couple of minutes into the second half.
It was an ominous start to the half for Gunnedah, and got worse when winger Peter Ford was yellow-carded leaving them down to 14, and exposing them to a Rams onslaught.
But it never came.
Instead the Red Devils were the ones that lifted, Sanimo Navatu running back on the inside of half-back Zack Harris and crashing over for his second to cut the difference back to 12.
From there it was a bit of a stalemate with the Red Devils asking questions of the Rams but just not able to finish off their opportunities.
“I think in the second half those guys (Gunnedah) got their act together and played some more structured stuff in the middle, and played with a bit more urgency,” Crawford said.
They in turn were “pretty lackadaisical” around the ball and on the ball, and weren’t making their first-up tackles.
Once they sorted that out, he said, they started to get back to how they played in the first half.
The forwards set the foundation and Crawford couldn’t go past Sione Kamato. The second rower was instrumental in providing the go-forward in the first half. Cordingley and Pete Young also had strong games while Jack King was constantly probing the Red Devils defence at half-back.
Part of the St Albert’s premiership winning side last season, he has made a lot of difference, Crawford said, not that they are short of half-backs with five genuine nines.
The Red Devils had held them to just 13 points when they met in the first round, and again showed they could match it in the forwards.
The Rams were just “too quick”, as coach Jason Waerea succinctly put it.
“That was pretty impressive that speed,” Waerea remarked.
The Red Devils countered that a lot better in the second half, and Waerea felt they were well in the game up until about 20 minutes to go.
That was despite having “no ball” in the first half, Waerea almost marveling at the skill and pace the Rams showed particularly in the backs.
“Again our forwards were very well-matched,” he said.
“(But) They’ve got a wonderful swinging backline.”
The question was always going to be whether they could shut them down.
Breakaway Will Archer was their best, scooping the best and fairest and players player points.