Central North Rugby Union: Slick Pirates too good for Gunnedah

Two brilliant patches of play have ensured Pirates’ unbeaten start to the Central North Rugby Union season continues.

The Tamworth outfit beat Gunnedah 50-12 at Ken Chillingworth Oval on Saturday with Pirates doing the majority of their scoring in two scintillating periods.

Pirates turned down three easy points, with a penalty right in front, four minutes into the match but made good on the call as Jack Shelton crashed over.

That was the start of Tamworth’s first hot period as Pirates quickly shot out to a 22-point lead – thanks mainly to Tim Collins’ and Conrad Starrs’ line-breaking efforts on the back of turnovers – despite missing Brendan Rixon for 10 minutes following a yellow card for throwing a punch.

Six minutes later, the Red Devils appeared to have scored when Nimo Navatu went over as a melee erupted in back-play.

A large chunk of both sides ended up in the tussle and after the referees’ consultation, the try was disallowed, no players were given cards and Pirates were awarded a scrum.

Pirates scored one more try, on the stroke of half-time, through Andrew Mepham to lead 29-0 at the break.

The game turned into an arm wrestle in the second half with Gunnedah dominating possession and territory.

However, the Red Devils found it hard to crack Tamworth’s defensive line until Esava Ravouvou crossed to reduce the lead to 24 points with 22 minutes remaining.

The try sparked life into the Pirates offence.

Tamworth hit another purple patch and scored three tries in five minutes – aided by the sin-binning of Gunnedah’s Zack Harris – to hit 50 points.

A final yellow card was delivered to Tamworth’s Bart Leach with three minutes remaining with Matt Hannay scoring a consolation try for Gunnedah to make the final score 50-12.

While notching up 50 points is no easy task, Pirates coach Mat Kelly was more impressed with the defensive effort.

“We had to do a lot of defence today, Gunnedah threw a fair bit at us,” Kelly said.

”We were lucky enough to still score 50 points but we still have a lot we can still improve on.

“Today, I was really impressed with the effort from the boys – to do so much defence, to keep turning up and only let in 12 points was a great effort.”