TAREE City held off a fast-finishing Old Bar side to record a tough 22-16 win in the Group Three Rugby League game played at the Jack Neal Oval on Saturday afternoon.
The Bulls had the clash under control for much of the 80 minutes. They led 16-0 at the break and increased this to 22-0 four minutes after the resumption with a try to impressive hooker Oscar Carey.
However, from there the Pirates dominated field position, just as the Bulls had done in the first half. Old Bar kept plugging away, but a combination of desperate defence and some poor options denied the Pirates.
In the 62nd minute and just when it seemed the Bulls would cruise to the line, the game changed dramatically. Second rower Jared Wooster, one of Old Bar's best in the second half, made a determined run to the line to score and open up their account. Joel Minihan added the goal.
Ill-discipline started the creep into Taree's game and when they were denied a try for an offside play on a touch judge's report, the Bulls blew up. It made no difference to the decision, which, from the sideline looked correct and referee Cameron Thomas gave Taree halfback Dean Mills a 10 minute stay in the sin bin for dissent. Old Bar charged back into the encounter with two tries, both scored by winger Joe Hinton and with four minutes on the clock it was 22-16 and game on. However, Mills returned to the fray soon after and the Bulls had enough in reserve to close out the match.
It was a game of contrasting halves. Taree had all the ball in the first 40 and ran in three three tries, two to centre Calum Wesley and the other to lock Thomas Paulson.
Wesley showed enough to suggest he'll be a valuable gain for Taree, producing both strength and speed to notch his tries. There's try scoring potential in the Taree backline, with Wesley, Mills, five-eighth Toby De Stefano and fullback Jake Lauder. De Stefano produced a well-timed pass for Wesley, who ran a great line to score his second try in a throwback to their days in the juniors with Taree Red Rovers. Winger Todd Northam continued his bright start to 2019 with a busy effort, while second rower Ethan Currey did a power of work in the forwards.
The Pirates were a disorganised rabble in the first half, rarely worrying the defence, although they didn't have a lot of ball. When they finally clicked into gear they played some good football, albeit against a tiring defence, with Wooster leading the way up the middle and on the edges. Representative five-eighth Conor Taylor produced some clever touches late in the game. Hinton, on the wing, can sniff out a try.
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The Pirates go into Easter with a 0/2 record but according to co-coach Shannon Ellem, they have some troops to come back when play resumes after the break.
"It's not ideal but hopefully we can get things sorted and work from there,'' Ellem said at fulltime.
(More to come).
Taree City 22 (C Wesley 2, T Paulson, O Carey tries, D Mills 3 goals), defeated Old Bar 16 (J Hinton 2, J Wooster tries, J Minihan 2 goals).
Reserve grade Old Bar 18 d Taree City 0
League tag Taree City 20 d Old Bar 6.