RUGBY UNION: Gunnedah Red Devils suffered their second loss of the Central North Rugby Union First Grade competition, defeated by the Tamworth Pirates 41 to 26 at Pirates’ Chillingworth Oval last weekend.
Surrendering the Kookaburras Cup, the Devils were on the back foot from the start of their match against the Pirates.
Sluggish starts have been the Achilles heel for the Red Devils this season – on Saturday the trend continued.
A converted try in the opening minute from the Pirates set the tone for the Red Devils loss and two other five pointers were conceded before the Devils registered their first points of the match, coming through a converted try in the 20th minute.
From there it was a battle of territory between the two sides, where unfortunately for the Devils it was the Pirates gaining the ascendency in yardage, as they continued to apply pressure on the field and the scoreboard through scoring two more tries before the main break.
On the stroke of half time, the Red Devils hit back with a try to winger Darrell Morrison, and at half time were still in the match as the score read 24 points to 12.
Pirates put the foot to the floor in the second half after 15 minutes, having run in an immediate try, stretched their lead to 27 points at 38 to 12.
Devils’ centre Elijah Sufia, scrumhalf Sam Crane and flanker Ray Spradbrow on the side of the scrum, laid on three tries in the final 10 minutes of the match.
But it was a case of too little too late for the competition leaders, who suffered their second loss of the 2022 season.
Although the loss also meant surrendering the Kookaburras Cup – the Red Devils had regained the cup having previously lost it to Inverell in their only other loss of the season, and in return won it back off the same opponent on Inverell’s return fixture at Gunnedah’s Rugby Park last weekend – the Red Devils maintain their hold at the top of the Central North Rugby competition.
This weekend the Devils will host Walcha at Gunnedah’s Rugby Park as they aim to solidify their minor premiership aspirations on top of the Central North Rugby first grade ladder.