THE ARMIDALE Rams got one back on arch-rival Uralla Tigers in their opening Group 19 game at Woodville Oval, Uralla on Saturday.
In a much-anticipated game following the Tigers’ purge of Rams players in the off-season, Armidale got off to a perfect start and was up 24-6 at halftime before outlasting the Tigers for a 36-32 win.
Rams president Terry Carson said they were great in the first half and then kept shooting themselves in the foot in the second.
The opening stanza was a lesson in big forwards making big metres playing simple footy.
“Our forwards were just rolling through them,” Carson said.
“We were making 60-70m every set before the kick.”
The Quinlan brothers, Steve and Garry, were at their usual tricks up front, with hooker Jamie Smith distributing and directing the side around with poise.
Apakuki Mate was unstoppable up front, along with fellow forward Semi Kubunavanua.
Mate earnt players’ player and three NBN points for his game up front as well as two tries.
A halftime chat from coach Carl Press must have switched the Tigers on as they started to claw their way back into the game.
Down 30-6 just after halftime, they scored 26-6 in the final half hour.
“We made a lot of mistakes in the first half but defended them well,” Carson said.
“We didn’t do that in the second half and everything went against us.”
The Tigers had the weight of possession in the final half and were moving the bigger Rams around the field.
Jordan Press and Ronald Kelly both picked up doubles but the difference ended up being the kicking after both sides scored six tries.
Rams captain coach Clarrie Moran kicked all six, while Tigers kicker Lewis Ahoy only managed four.
“It is good to get that first win up and in the local derby,” Carson said.
The Rams thrashed the Tigers 62-18 in second grade while the Tigers won the ladies’ league tag 40-6.
The Rams will now take their first trip north to Goondiwindi next week.