ST ALBERT’S switched tack from a running to territory game and it served them well on Saturday as they took the points against competition leaders Armidale.
It wasn’t the prettiest spectacle but that was to be expected in the miserable conditions.
There wasn’t a lot in it in the end, with Albies getting home 28-21.
“We’re pretty happy with the win,” Albies coach Tom Newsome said.
It takes them to equal with the Blues on top.
The students came out the better of the sides and jumped out to a 21-point lead.
The Blues hit back with two converted tries to close the gap to seven.
“We scored again and then they scored on the bell,” Newsome said.
Their start was critical.
“It was relatively dry in the first half,” he said.
The second half was a lot wetter.
“It was important to have those points. It’s harder to score in the rain,” Newsome said.
He said most of the work was done in the forwards.
“That footy (wet weather) most of the game is played in the forwards,” he said.
Territory is also a big factor.
“We changed tactics a bit. We played field position,” Newsome said.
Usually more of a running side, they considered it would be harder in the conditions running it from the other end of the field than from the 30m line.
“We kicked quite a bit. That enabled us to attack in their half,” Newsome said.
“It wasn’t typical Albies footy but it worked.”
It wasn’t a day for keeping ball in hand.
“The ball being slippery it was hard to put 8 to 10 phases together,” he said.
Second-rower Ollie Bartlett put in another strong performance and got the three points.
Fullback Travis Saxby picked up the two and winger Jacob Booby the one.
Blues co-coach Anthony McMillan was proud of their efforts but thought their slow start hurt them.
“It took us a long time to get started,” he said.
“They scored a couple of early tries out of our stupidity.”
“We slowly ground back at them.”
“For probably a 20-minute period there in the second half it could have gone either way.”
He also spoke about Albies’ kicking game.
“They kept on turning us around, kept putting it behind our forwards with little kicks and they had the fitness and guys through to chase,” he said.
They also “kicked-on better from our mistakes”.
As to be expected in the conditions, there were a lot of mistakes.
John Roberts is back playing with them this season and is already having an impact. He picked up the three points on Saturday.
“He was outstanding,” McMillan said.
“He really is a class act.”
Anthony Piddington also turned in another performance at hooker to get the two.
In the other game, Robb edged out Guyra 13-5.