TWO players were sent off and the game was stopped just before official fulltime in an ill-tempered Group Three Rugby League encounter between Old Bar and Forster-Tuncurry at the Trad Fields at Old Bar.
The Pirates made it two wins from two starts when accounting for the Hawks 32-12 in a commanding performance on a heavy field.
Referee Sean Burnes had a busy day, particularly in the second half.
He marched Forster centre Tyrone Roberts-Davis midway through the second half and with 10 minutes to go Old Bar centre Kurt Lewis was given his marching orders. It's understood Roberts-Davis will be charged with a high tackle, Lewis with tackling a player not in possession of the ball.
Lewis only completed a lengthy suspension last season after being sent off in the 2019 minor semi-final. This was held over until last year as there was no football in Group Three in 2020 due to the pandemic.
Earlier Old Bar halfback Jordan Worboys was given a 10 minute stay in the sin bin.
There had been plenty of niggle between the sides all game and after Lewis was sent off the match looked like further deteriorating. Group Three chairman Wayne Bridge made the decision to call time with just under two minutes remaining. It had no bearing on the result. Players shook hands at fulltime and made their way to the dressing sheds without further incident.
"We started the game with our game plan and we stuck to it,'' Worboys, the Old Bar co-coach said at fulltime.
"We got off to a two try lead. But it was the story of our season last year as well, we start getting a bit excited and going away from what works for us.
"But it was a pleasing finish. We really knuckled down late for each other and that was the most pleasing part.
"Our forwards were outstanding, especially on this heavy turf. They laid the platform. Full credit to our middles.''
Worboys said it was tough going on a boggy field.
"Mate, it's the heaviest field I've played on in a long time,'' he said.
The Pirates play Wingham next Saturday in a deferred game and Worboys said it's pleasing to be finally playing some football after the wretched start to the year due to the Big Wet.
"Consistency is our big thing...getting some match practice. We need to get some games together and our combinations working.
"Two (wins) from two games. It's a pleasing start but far from the finished product. All you can do is win so we'll take the two points and move on.''
Forster captain-coach Nathan Campbell described it as 'a tough day at the office,' and a 'grubby game'.
"But you get that,'' he added.
Campbell played little part in the game, being replaced early in the first half with what he said was a 'bit of a strain through the abs.'
The Hawks were the season's early front runners but have now lost two successive matches.
"We're still gelling,'' Campbell said.
"And it was a muddy track. I won't comment on officials, but we didn't get the bounce of the ball today.''
The Hawks have a free weekend coming up and Campbell said this is timely.
"We get a few troops back after that. We were stripped for depth this week but we'll get refreshed and ready for Macleay.
"There was a lot of niggling there today and the heavy track probably didn't help, but we'll bounce back,'' he promised.
Old Bar won the arm wrestle. It was a forward dominated encounter and the Old Bar pack paved the way for the win, as Worboys pointed out.
Old Bar's co-captain-coach and hooker Mick Henry was as good as any player on the ground. He threw two great passes close to the line to lay on tries for Lleyton Henry and Jonathon Tickle at crucial times in the second half.
Second rower Thomas Dooker was another Pirate to revel in the hard going, although there were no failures among the Old Bar forwards. Lock Shannon Martin, who was also playing strongly, was forced off in the second half with a facial injury.
The Pirates opened an early 8-0 lead via unconverted tries to Dooker and centre Jackson Longa, who had a solid game. Forster replied with a try to second rower Greg Davis off a pass from Adrian Davis and Adrian Davis added the extras, making it 8-6 at the break.
Henry's second half try and a goal to Michael Bailey saw the Pirates open up a handy 14-6 lead soon after the resumption, however, the Hawks responded with their best passage of the game and livewire fullback Jordan Hinton did the groundwork for Davis to score his second. Adrian Davis converted and the Hawks were within two points while Old Bar had Worboys in the bin.
Old Bar not only held on, they increased the advantage with Tickle's try that was converted by Bailey. Isaac Worboys and Zac Power added further four pointers for the Pirates before the messy end to the encounter.
Forster won the league tag 44-0 while Old Bar took the points in under 18s by 8-6. The Hawks prevailed 18-10 in reserve grade.