Three’s a charm!

Moree Champion – 26th August

Paul Jobber

 

THEY had an almighty scare after the siren, but the Moree Bulls under 18s progressed to their third successive grand final after a 20-all draw with Pirates on Saturday.

The game lived up to its billing and after finishing the regular season as minor premiers the Bulls are the first team into the decider.

Mitchell Parker 

President, Simon Dunlop, said it was an entertaining game of rugby between the two best sides in the competition.

“Pirates have been the biggest challenge all year and the boys started the game a bit on the back foot, but once they got themselves into the groove they played well,” he said.

Pirates hit the ground running and opened the scoring in the 13th minute through forward Hayden Griffiths before fullback Brad Thrift extended the lead, winning the race to the ball to score in the corner after a clever chip-and-chase effort five minutes later.

It gave the visitors a handy 10-point lead but the Bulls, making some uncharacteristic errors, finally got their hands on the ball in good field position and Tim Mitchell charged through some flimsy defence to score out wide to put the home side on the board.

Fullback Toby Knight converted the try and added a penalty goal five minutes before half time to lock the scores up at 10 all at the break.

Bulls forward Mitchell Parker put the home side in front for the first time when he finished off some clever lead-up work from Adam Duncan who ran 30 metres before he drew the fullback and sent Parker on his way to score in the far corner.

Again, Knight added the extras from near the sideline to put the Bulls in front by a converted try.

But the Pirates were not to be denied and Ryan Withertin fortuitously charged down an Angus Mactavish clearing kick and found the ball lodged between his arms and his stomach.

He crossed under the posts and with halfback Kerrod Binge adding a penalty goal it was all locked up at 17 all with 13 minutes remaining.

Mactavish was again in the thick of the action minutes later when he intercepted a loose Pirates pass, but he was penalised and given a yellow card after the referee ruled a professional foul.

Binge again added the penalty goal to put the Pirates back in front before Bulls fullback Knight converted a 25-metre penalty goal with two minutes remaining to again level the scores.

Pirates were awarded a penalty inside the final minute which required the Bulls to defend grimly to progress to their third grand final in as many years.