The Narrabri Blue Boars perfect run this season may have been cut short in the very last regular Central North fixture on the weekend, however it sets up an enthralling couple of weeks of rugby as finals time begins to heat up.
Whilst Moree Bulls came away victorious on Dangar Park last Saturday, it wasn’t enough to stop the home side from securing another minor premiership and another major semi-final at home, courtesy of picking up two crucial bonus points during the game.
That was down to the Boars second-half comeback, which saw them finish with four tries and keep the game to within a seven-point contest.
Despite the courageous fightback from the hosts, Narrabri fell just short as the game went beyond the 80 minutes, finishing 30-26 to the visitors.
If Narrabri was going to lose a game this late in the year, that was the last opportunity to do so, with the club having high aspirations of hosting back-to-back grand finals.
To do so the lads will need to make sizable improvements for when they meet again in a fortnight’s time, after being ‘silenced’ by the Bulls in the first 30 minutes of the weekend’s clash.
The Bulls’ aggressively fast-paced start saw them kick two penalty goals inside 10 minutes and could have had a third but missed the chance.
Boars, rattled by the onslaught, hardly got a touch on the ball during that period.
The ‘truckload’ of possession the Bulls were granted drove Boars into a state of frustration, with the side losing Luke Findley to the sin-bin.
He would be the first of two Boars players to be sin-binned in the half.
Moree continued to use its match momentum with Alex Corlis running wide to score the first try of the day.
Narrabri was then left shell-shocked after Moree were in again, with centre, Heath Riggs, finding a hole to stroll over and give Moree a 20-nil lead mid-way through the first half.
If things couldn’t get any worse for the Boars, frustrations then boiled over again as Thomas Lynch was sin-binned for a crunching tackle, reducing Narrabri to just 13 men on the field.
Bulls capitalised with another try before the Boars finally hit back with two of their own as they got back to full numbers on the paddock.
A surging run from Henri Curtin took him, and several Moree defenders, over the line late in the half to awaken the side.
The Boars struck again through centre Henri Knight, who planted the ball under the posts right on the half-time buzzer, to amend score-line and set up a thrilling fight to the finish in the at 27-14.
What was said at half-time seemed to do the trick, as the Boars picked things up to claw back into the contest.
Skipper Matt Schwager at nine and James Thomas at fullback both posted five-pointers to bring the home side to within just one-point.
A roaring crowd by this stage was on the edge of their seats as the match progressed into the final stages, with hopes high that the Boars would complete the ultimate comeback.
However it wasn’t to be with a Bulls-penalty goal and then a Boars knock-on at the try-line in the final play effectively ending the epic battle.
Moree’s hollow win on the weekend could possibly be a three-round main event between the two clubs, should they both meet in the grand final.
That’s the early call from bookmakers but could change if Tamworth-based clubs, Magpies and Pirates, have a say when they take to the field in this weekend’s top tier minor semi-final.
They will be joined by Narrabri second grade, which takes on the Pirates second outfit on the day.
The Blue Boars’ second-stringers beat table-toppers Moree 15-7 last weekend, with tries to backs Tom Stewart and Jydon Hill.
The Narrabri 16s will also be involved in their maiden finals series, taking on Barraba in Tamworth.