Narrabri Rugby League Football Club’s first grade side kicked off its 2021 Group 4 Rugby League campaign with an 18-10 victory against Moree Boars in front of a huge home crowd at Collins Park on Sunday afternoon.
The Blues led 6-4 at the break before outscoring the visitors 12-6 in the second stanza to score an eight-point victory in Jake Rumsby’s inaugural match as captain-coach.
Rumsby told The Courier that although it was not the prettiest win, he was pleased that his men fought hard to earn the two points.
“Very scrappy,” he said when asked to describe the game.
“As a team we were very scrappy too but I think that comes with a few of us not having played for a couple of years and no one playing last year.
“Myself personally I was scrappy ball-handling-wise.
“There was a lot of dropped ball from both teams but that came from fatigue I think.
“But I thought in patches we played well, the first 20 (minutes) especially we were on top but we let them back in the game.
“There were no standouts today, it took a real hard-fought team performance to get this win.
“I thought our defence was great in patches.
“We’ve got a bit to work on but we’ll get better once we work out our combinations, we’re a new group coming together and there were a few debutants today but they held their own.”
Rumsby said that he and his side appreciated the support they received in round one from a large Collins Park crowd.
“I was really impressed with the crowd, they really got us home at the end,” the captain-coach said.
“It was great to run out and play in front of that.
“As players we have to play our part now, it’s a big year on and off the field for the club.”
Rumsby said discipline and ball security were two areas the Blues would work on during the week before they travel to Werris Creek to take on the Magpies in round two.
Narrabri joined the Gunnedah Bulldogs, Kootingal Roosters and North Tamworth Bears as round one winners in round one of the 2021 Group 4 Rugby League season following an entertaining weekend.
The Bulldogs scored a 24-20 away win against the Boggabri Kangaroos at Jubilee Oval on Saturday, while the Roosters were also away winners after they downed Werris Creek Magpies 46-6. On Sunday, North Tamworth beat the Dungowan Cowboys 30-22.
At Collins Park on Sunday afternoon, Narrabri Rugby League Football Club’s ladies’ league tag team scored a 16-14 win against Moree.
The club’s reserve grade side was beaten 32-24 by the Boars and its under-18s team went down 28-24 in a trial match against Baradine.
In the main game, the Blues thought they had their first points of the season in the 10th minute when Rumsby planted the ball down just outside the left upright after charging through a gap close to the line, however, a Hayden Bell short ball which would have been the try assist was ruled to have gone forward.
Narrabri would not be denied less than 90 seconds later when halfback Todd Nichols scored on his return to Group 4 footy. Nichols received the ball 15 out from the posts and stepped his way through the Moree defensive line on his way to the first four-pointer of the game which he then converted to give Narrabri a 6-0 lead.
Both sides were reduced to 12 players in the 25th minute when Moree lost Marshall Barker to the sin bin after the visitors conceded repeated penalties close to the line, before Blues front-rower Daniel Jobson was sin-binned 20 seconds later for dissent after giving away a penalty while in possession of the ball.
Moree thought it had scored its first points of the contest in the 29th minute but Stan Swan was penalised for a double movement while attempting to ground the ball following a fast dart out of dummy half close to the line.
With five minutes left to play in the first half, Moree finally found its way through the Blues’ defence as a piece of Silas Haines magic put the hosts on the board. On halfway, Bell put a chip in behind the Moree defence and before he could regain possession the ball was scooped up by Haynes who ran 65 metres and around Narrabri fullback Damon Gleeson to score five metres inside the right touchline. Boars skipper Ben Williams missed the conversion and the Blues took a 6-4 lead into the break.
The home side came out firing in the second stanza and only needed four minutes to extend its lead. Dangerous centre Dennis Gordon finally got his hands on the ball in an attacking area and offloaded to Gleeson who dived between two defenders to make the score 10-4.
That became 16-4 in the 50th minute when Blake Hilderson claimed the Blues’ third try of the contest down the right edge after the home side spread the ball from the left where Jobson made an explosive run and a produced quick play-the-ball seconds earlier. After claiming the try assist, Todd Nichols added the extras from the tee as the Blues took a 12-point lead.
The Boars reduced that to six points on the hour-mark when Jake Tighe crossed for his side’s second try. It came after Moree fed a scrum 10 metres out from their own line and chipped in behind the Blues’ defence on the first play. Centre Joe Wade caught the ball and raced 70 metres up-field before Gleeson chased him down and brought him to the ground. Tighe scored during the next play and Williams converted to make the score 16-10.
The Boars were reduced to 12 players with 12 minutes left to play when Swan was sin-binned after committing a professional foul. His opposite number nine, Narrabri’s Jacob Nichols, made a break out of dummy half from just inside his own half and raced away towards the tryline. Swan tackled him 10 out from the line but held him down for too long and was consequently given his marching orders.
The Blues sealed the game with a penalty goal with five minutes left to play after winning a penalty on their attacking line. Daniel Howe charged at the line from close range and while the Boars’ defence was up to the challenge and was able to keep him from grounding the ball, they held onto the Narrabri back-rower for too long which resulted in a penalty. Todd Nichols slotted the conversion to give the Blues the 18-10 lead.
Blues centre Gordon was awarded three Group 4 best and fairest points for a standout performance on Sunday, while the single point went to his teammate Sam Sadler. Moree skipper Williams polled two points.
Narrabri will play its first away game of the season in round two when it hits the road to challenge Werris Creek on Sunday afternoon.To order photos from this page click here