Old Bar maintain push for third spot

Old Bar's Corey Wheeler filled in at number 7 for injured captain coach, Danny Russell, in Saturday's game against Taree City.
Old Bar's Corey Wheeler filled in at number 7 for injured captain coach, Danny Russell, in Saturday's game against Taree City.

OLD Bar stayed in the race for a top three berth with a hard earned 30-24 win over Taree City in the Group Three Rugby League clash at the Jack Neal Oval.

The Pirates and Wingham both scored wins in the opening week of the split round.

Both have now skipped ahead of Port Sharks on the competition ladder, however, the Sharks meet Port City next weekend and, on form, should win that match.

This will mean the last round clash between Old Bar and Port Macquarie at Old Bar will determine the team to finish third.

At this stage it appears fourth is the best the Tigers can finish.

With the use of a strong breeze in the first half Taree opened up an 18-6 lead at the break.

However, three tries early in the second half saw the Pirates grab the lead and they held on from there.

The Bulls clawed back within four points of Old Bar late in the second half, however, a try to prop Jai Simon just before fulltime sealed the win.

Old Bar went into the game without captain-coach Danny Russell, who injured his ankle the previous match against Wauchope.

Corey Wheeler deputised for Russell at seven.

Jake Wheeler was shifted from the backrow to the centres to cover for Tom Alchin, who was unavailable.

The game was marred by numerous errors from both teams.

Old Bar conceded a number of penalties in the first half and Taree spent the majority of the opening 40 minutes on the attack.

However, Old Bar opened the scoring when second rower Tom Dooker crashed over for a try that was converted by Kurt Lewis.

The Bulls finally turned pressure into points when second rower Doug Ferguson crashed over.

Prop Josh Northam scored an opportunist try soon after and two goals to Luke Murray made it 12-6.

Ferguson's second try and a further goal to Murray opened up the advantage to 18-6.

Taree's led a number of times this season at halftime and have been unable to go on with it. The script didn't change in this match.

The Pirates kept driving the ball deep into Taree territory and the Bulls generally obliged with an error.

Two tries to speedy centre Daniel Morris took Old Bar within two points and a try to interchange player Shaun Ridgeway gave the Pirates the lead.

A second to Ridgeway opened up a 26-18 lead although Northam's second try gave the Bulls some hope until the Pirates wrapped up the game.

The crowd was bolstered by a big contingent of former Taree United players involved with the club's reunion that evening.

By fulltime many must have wondered why they left the warmth of the reunion venue, the Exchange Hotel, on a cold and windy afternoon.