Walcha vs Narrabri – Major semi final (written by Henry King)
Walcha turned out a great home crowd as the hosts of the major semi-final for 2019 – the first time that had happened since 1994. A huge tunnel ran the team on and they were fired up early, Lachie Brown posting the opening try off a Simon Newton short ball. It came off the back of some brilliant and patient build up work from the whole team lasting at least 15 phases. Narrabri were not to be underestimated however as they had not lost a game in the second half of the season and they were able to put together some phases of their own and managed to score after a couple of missed tackles by Walcha perhaps showing signs of rustiness after 3 weeks off. A tighthead scrum saw Lachie Brown take off from the base again and when he offloaded to Simon Newton with one to beat, the Rams had a 12-5 lead as Newton steamrolled the opposition fullback. Narrabri were then able to land 2 penalty goals through their sharp shooting fullback to take the score to 12-11 Walcha’s way with about 15 minutes to play in the first half. Newton then combined with Tom Bucknell off a scrum and he found Dicko Young in space, who drew the fullback and put Dom Bower in for the Rams 3rd try of the day. Once again though, Narrabri were allowed back into the contest and two more penalty goals saw the sides go into half time at 17-all.
The second half was a bit of an arm wrestle as finals often are, and neither side were able to put together lengthy phase play, with a lot of dropped ball and turnovers. Nonetheless, Walcha’s defence never really looked in trouble and when Dicko Young was taken high, Simon Newton put Walcha back into the lead with 15 minutes to play. Walcha’s defence was probably the highlight of the day as Narrabri, threw everything at the Rams but they refused to crack. When Thor Crombie effected the final turnover of the game, relief was the strong feeling amongst the group, which soon gave way to excitement as the opportunity to host the Grand Final on the 14th of September sunk in. After Pirates beat Narrabri over the weekend, it is now a third Grand Final in a row of Walcha vs pirates, only this time it will be a Peter Fenwicke park, hopefully with the town painted red and white and an even louder crowd than at the major semi-final. It’s time to get one back.