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The Moree Boars appear the team to beat at the halfway mark of the 2023 Group 4 Rugby League competition.

Through seven rounds the undefeated Boars sit top-of-the-table, and their winning ways have people talking.

Moree have put on 342 points – an average of 48.9 points a game – and they have four of the top 10 try scorers overall in their side.

Hard-running centre William Baker tops the lists with 15, fleet-footed custodian Adrian Smith (13) sits second, and joining them are playmaker Jamie Sampson (seven) and winger Jake Tighe (seven).

Smith is also Group 4's top points scorer with 136, the sharp-shooter adding 42 conversions to his impressive try tally.

"We have a very unusual style of play, and we like to sprinkle that with a bit of structure, and the balance is working well," said Moree Boars coach Mick Watton.

"We've got blokes who love playing footy from their own try line to five metres out and a good balance of older and younger heads, and they complement each other."

Smith and Baker have been particularly effective for the Boars, with the pair combining for 28 tries. Watton described two very different attacking players.

"Adrian has been with the Boars for a long time now, and we've broken his style of play down; we are letting him play his own brand of footy, and he's backing himself and his speed," Watton said.

"He's quite evasive and quick, and with Willy, he's just a strong ball-runner that runs a nice line for Jamie Sampson on the right edge, and they complement each other."

Photo credit: North Tamworth Bears
Photo credit: North Tamworth Bears

It's not just their electric attacking Rugby League that has helped Moree to a perfect start in 2023, but their competition-leading defence.

In those same seven games, Moree has conceded 123 points – 17.6 points a game – meaning they boast an imposing for-and-against (219), which is 108 better than the second-placed Werris Creek Magpies.

Still, Moree have had their moments, and following their opening round 46-28 victory over Kootingal-Moonbi, Watton was concerned about his side's defence.

The Boars dug in after that, defeating Narrandera 74-12, Gunnedah 68-6, Werris Creek 42-16, Dungowan 26-25, and Boggabri 56-22.

Last weekend Moree got some revenge on the North Tamworth Bears, with the Boars defeating the reigning premiers 30-14 at Jack Woolaston Oval.

On their way to a 22nd Group 4 title, North Tamworth knocked Moree out of the 2022 competition following their 44-18 Preliminary Final win.

Watton was pleased to see his side turn the tables on their rivals.

"To be honest, we didn't have it pencilled in on the calendar, but in the back of our minds, we owed them one after that prelim loss from last year," Watton said.

Moree will kick off the second half of their season on Saturday (3 June) with a Round Eight contest against the fourth-placed Kootingal-Moonbi at Collins Park.

In other Group 4 Round Seven results, Kootingal-Moonbi 34 def Dungowan 30, Boggabri 48 def Gunnedah 16, and Werris Creek 62 def Narrabri 26.

Round 8 draw: June 3: Kootingal-Moonbi v Moree at Collins Park, Werris Creek v Gunnedah at David Taylor Oval, North Tamworth v Boggabri at Jack Woolaston Oval; June 4: Dungowan v Narrabri at Dungowan Recreation Ground.

Group 4 ladder: Moree 14, Werris Creek 12, Dungowan 8, Kootingal-Moonbi 8, North Tamworth 6, Boggabri 6, Gunnedah 2, Narrabri 0.


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