RUGBY UNION: The 2022 Central North rugby union season came to a frustrating end for Gunnedah Red Devils’ second grade side at Inverell on Saturday.

The Red Devils finished third on the table after the home and away competition rounds but dropped out of the premiership race with a three-point loss, 17-14, in the elimination final against the combined Barraba/Gwydir side.

It was a disappointing exit for the Gunnedah side, which had been a competitive unit all season before it produced its most disjointed display on Saturday.

It was a dour struggle, with neither side able to develop any momentum, and Gunnedah regularly turning over possession through poor handling and, at times, ineffective foraging.

The Red Devils led 14-12 at half-time after a penalty try and a try late in the half by Hamish Hockings from the back of a maul, which was converted.

The only points of the second half came from an unconverted try to Barraba/Gwydir in the 67th minute, and although Gunnedah pressed hard in the last 13 minutes, the defence held its ground. 

The combined side will next play the loser of the grand final qualifier this Saturday between Moree Bulls and Tamworth Pirates. 

The first-grade elimination match was won convincingly, 35-14, by the Pirates over Inverell.

Pirates, building ominously late in the year, ran in five tries to two, two scored by their hardman Conrad Starr.

The Red Devils’ women’s team hit top gear to over-run Quirindi 62-15, taking a firm grip on the game after running in five tries in the first 15 minutes. 

Kate O’Donnell scored three tries and kicked three conversions, backed up by Stephanie Lennon and Emmy Barr, who scored doubles. 

The Red Devils will play the loser of Saturday’s major semi-final between Tamworth Pirates and Narrabri.   

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