In another twist to the continuing plot-line surrounding the Narrabri-Moree rivalry, a battle-scarred Blue Boars second straight four-point home defeat to the Bulls in recent weeks, now means they will have to do it the hard way.
The first grade lads join their second grade compatriots in a do-or-die preliminary final at Dangar Park this Saturday against last year’s grand final opponents Tamworth Pirates.
The Blue Boars were left shattered at the final whistle, leaving their run too late, with a poor start costing the side in Saturday’s major semi.
That wasn’t helped by a few harsh calls from the referee.
Bulls got ahead early and never relinquished the lead, taking first points through a Jordan Cosh-try.
The Blue Boars could only manage a Matt Schwager-penalty goal in slowing down the Bulls’ aggressive hold of momentum in the early stages of the opening half.
The home side was then caught playing too high up in the ball run, as the Bulls were soon over again with frontman Matt Wannan pushing over near the posts.
The Blue Boars at that stage could hardly move out of their own half, with a truckload of defending wearing down the hosts.
Moree winger Sam Bacigalupo then scampered over the line to take the Bulls out to a startling 21-3 lead.
A couple of penalties finally had the Blue Boars making ground up the other end of the field.
Henry Curtin crashed over to bring the contest back to an 11-point difference at the half-time break.
The Blue Boars centre was the man of the moment as he looked to salvage his team’s terrible start, again crossing over in the first minutes of the second-half.
His second try was off an impressive restart from the side’s backline play, with a Tom Lynch off-load finding a diving Curtin to see the home side fightback to 21-15 score.
The Bulls’ ruckmen hit back at the other end, with a controversial penalty-try being awarded much to the dismay of the home support.
The Blue Boars were ruled to have brought down the maul on their own line, with Beau Brummell copping a sin-bin offence in the process.
However the side rallied with their ‘never say die’ attitude as hooker Luke Findley and Todd Farrer, off the bench, both scored to give the side one last crack heading into the last quarter of the match.
Skipper Schwager’s conversion of the Farrer try made it a one-point ball game.
A tense back and forth followed, with a Bulls penalty goal on the stroke of full-time all but ending the contest.