A DOMINATING forward performance in heavy conditions paved the way for Old Bar’s comprehensive 42-10 win over Taree City in the Group Three Rugby League game at Old Bar.
The Pirate pack bullied the Bulls, with their big men Zeb Samuel, Andy Petelo and newcomer Matthew Farrance giving the Taree City defenders little respite. This opened up space for the backs, guided by halves Danny Russell and Nathan Maher. Centres Clint Walker and Robert Bungie both scored two tries. On that performance the Pirates looked every inch a top five team. Farrance joined the club just before the June 30 deadline and he’ll be a major asset. He’s big and goes looking for work and he made life hard for the Bulls, particularly in the soggy conditions.
Taree City had their excuses. They were minus fullback Dean Mills, winger Nayden Moriarty and five-eighth Matt Everitt and suffered a further blow when hooker Mick Henry injured his shoulder in the first half. Coach Gary Bridge was forced to call on under 18 players to fill the gaps and there was a noticeable size difference between the sides. Old Bar made the most of this advantage, dominating the middle third. Possibly even more pleasing for coaches Russell and Jake Wheeler was the side’s defence.
The Bulls applied plenty of pressure in the first half but were thwarted by an almost impregnable defensive line – although it can be said there wasn’t a lot of imagination in the Taree attack.
The first half started perfectly for Taree when halfback Todd Bridge tapped on a ball that resulted in winger Josh Russell crashing over. Moments before halftime hooker Toby De Stefano worked his way over to score Taree’s second. However, in between it had been all Old Bar. Walker scored twice and Bungie once while Russell was having a great day with the boot, steering over three conversions. There was some doubt about Bungie’s try, with Walker sending a pass out to winger John Cook on the fifth and there was a suggestion Cook may have fumbled the ball. However, referee Barry Murray ruled play-on and Cook did well before sending Bungie racing over.
The score was 18-10 at lemons and the Bulls still had a sniff. However. 10 minutes after the resumption it was all over, Maher sending a pass to Bungie for Russell to convert to stretch the lead to 24-10 followed by tries to Dylan Towers and Jake Wheeler. The Pirates dominated field position, with the Bulls rarely making it into Old Bar territory.
Old Bar plays Wingham next Saturday in a game that will have a major bearing on the top five. The Bulls will hope they’ll have some troops back for the clash against Wauchope at Wauchope.
It was a good day for the home club, with a 4-0 win in league tag and an 18-16 result in under 18s. Taree won the reserve grade 20-16.