Central North Rugby - First grand finalists decided

PIRATES second grade, Barraba U18s and Tamworth U16s are the first teams through to their respective grand finals after major semi-final wins at Ken Chillingworth Oval on Saturday.

The Magpies 16s kicked things off with a 17-7 win over Barraba. The Rams got their revenge in the 18s with a double to outside centre Fraser Evans helping them to a 48-7 win.

Pirates then rolled minor premiers Moree in an enthralling and willing contest 14-12.

A Michael Rixon penalty goal was the only score for the second half, with the Bulls leading 12-11 at half-time.

They held that until just over 20 to go, when Rixon slotted his third penalty for the game. He twice had the chance to kick them further ahead in the last 15 minutes, but was unsuccessful on both occasions.

The first was with just over 13 to go, and also resulted in the Bulls losing Sylvester Joseph to the sin-bin. His second shot hit the right post but fortunately bounced back for Pirates.

But the Bulls managed to hold them out, leaving it a two-point game with just over five minutes to play.

Pirates had the better of the territory in the closing minutes and were able to snuff out a final charge from the Bulls on full-time to book their spot in the decider.

“Very happy with that,” Pirates co-coach Peter Flynn said of what was a win they really had to grind out.

It was their first over the Bulls this season and followed a one-point loss their last meeting.

Flynn said at half-time they spoke about trusting their phases and holding the ball. They had a dominant scrum and had pinched a bit of the Bulls lineout ball.

The second half they were able to effectively starve the Bulls of possession and force them to play out of their half.

“We really didn't give them a sniff,” Flynn said.

“They didn't have a lot of quality ball in our half. We were able to play a lot in our half, which was what we wanted.”

Their defence was also superb.

“We knew we could win the game on the back of our defence,” he said.

“We know we've got the ability to score points.”

Bulls coach Peter Copeman also spoke highly of his sides defence.

“I thought our guys defended really well all the ball they (Pirates) had,” he said.

They would have probably had 80 per cent of the ball, but the Bulls held them to just a try.

“It's three weeks since we had a game and we were a bit rusty,” he said.

“It might be a good thing if we can manage to get through next week.”

They did still had their moments, and especially looked dangerous when they spun the ball wide, with winger Alexander Bailey scoring a double.

“We looked good when we got the ball. We just couldn't keep it long enough,” Copeman said.

“Everytime we got on a roll we turned the ball over or dropped it.”

Discipline was also “a bit of a problem” for the Bulls.