Central North Rugby: Walcha outgun Narrabri 54-5 in elimination final

Walcha showed their full bag of tricks as they outclassed Narrabri 54-5 in Saturday’s elimination final.

It was an emphatic performance from the Rams, who played the territory game perfectly in the first half, constantly turning the Blue Boars around and forcing them to play the game out of their 22, and then turned on the razzle dazzle in the second half.

They simply “wore them out” as a delighted Rams co-coach Barry Hoy commented.

Inside centre Pat Keen was prominent in the second half demolition crossing twice to finish with a hat-trick. His last was a spectacular length of the field effort, Keen running onto a perfectly weighted grubber from Simon Newton from a scrum 5m out from Narrabri’s line and running away 70m to score.

He had earlier pushed off a couple of Blue Boars defenders to give the Rams the early ascendancy.

From there they dominated possession and territory, Newton working the Blue Boars back three over with some precision kicking.

“When we played across at Narrabri, they did that and worked us across the field and it busted us,” Keen said.

“We tried to turn it around and do the same thing to them today and I think it worked well.

“Putting it into the corners early and sort of reserving a bit of energy to keep going in the game was key as well.”

There was equally a real venom to the Rams’ defence, not allowing the Blue Boars an inch.

Yet for all of that there was only 13 points in it at half-time, a couple of penalties late in the half giving them a bit of breathing room.

It was partly the Rams’ own doing, several times turning the ball over from a lineout in good attacking territory, and partly credit to the Blue Boars defence.

They defended resolutely in the first half – twice holding the Rams up inside their 22 and earning the scrum feed - to keep themselves in the contest.

But quick tries to Sione Kamato and Dom Bower early in the second half saw the deficit stretch to 25 points, and as the toils of the first half caught up with the Blue Boars the floodgates opened.

The Rams will now play either Pirates or Moree for the remaining grand final spot, and on the evidence of Saturday they will take some beating.​

Walcha winger Dom Bower enroute to the tryline after slicing through the Narrabri defence.

Walcha winger Dom Bower enroute to the tryline after slicing through the Narrabri defence.

It still wasn’t perfect and as important as territory is in semi-finals, Hoy thought there were opportunities when they could have run it in the first half.

“That’s what I said to them at half-time – don’t get stuck in one mode,” he said.

They were too, he felt, a bit guilty of trying to go wide before they went forward.

“Our defence was pretty well spot-on. I wasn’t too worried about that, it was more our attack,” Hoy said.

That righted itself in the second half, as did the lineout.

The scrum was “solid all day” and a great launching pad, with several of the Rams tries coming either off a set play off a scrum or a couple of phases later.

Pat Keen talks about Saturday's win

Hoy also noted that they played for the 80 minutes. They didn’t have that 10 minute lapse that they are sometimes prone to.

What he most liked about the performance was that it was a team effort. Everyone got in and did their job and they stuck at it.

Earlier Gunnedah conceded the first try but hit back with four unanswered five-pointers to beat Narrabri 20-7 in the first-ever women’s final.

There was some joy though for the Blue Boars with their under-19s getting up 38-12 over Gunnedah before Pirates upset Inverell 23-7 in second grade.

This story Walcha produce elimination finals masterclass first appeared on The Northern Daily Leader.