ARMIDALE is warming in New England minor premiership favouritism after winning a cold and wet top of the table clash against Robb College on Saturday.
The Blues overpowered the students 25-5 to, with the double points, kick 13 points clear at the top.
Conditions weren’t easy to play in, with rain throughout most of the game, and lightning delaying the start of the second half by about five minutes.
On the field it was the forwards who provided the spark for the Blues.
The scrum, particularly, really turned the screws on the students.
“The scrum was pretty strong,” Blues co-coach Anthony McMillan said.
They would have won three or four tightheads, he said. Robb co-coach Jim Boland thought it was even higher.
His stats had them winning seven.
Either way, the Blues scrum was dominant, to the degree McMillan said, that when they had the choice of a scrum or lineout Robb was opting to take the lineout.
“They put up a good fight in the first 15-20 minutes like we knew they would,” McMillan said.
Robb was the first to score but the Blues replied with three unanswered tries in 15 minutes to take a 17-5 lead into half-time and a stranglehold on the game.
McMillan said they were dominant all over the park, and felt that if the rain hadn’t have come down as hard as it did in the second half, they would have really gone on with it.
They only managed a try and a penalty but did get the bonus point.
That gave them 10 points with the double points and gives them a “good little lead now”.
Dan Ahsee was their best at outside centre.
Second-rower Jack Hodges got the two points, and hooker Anthony Piddington the one, with the returning Mitch Pardy picking up the players’ vote.
Mike TeMoana was also a real handful for the students.
“Every time he got the ball he broke through three or four before they dragged him down,” McMillan said.
“It was a very dominant display by him.”
Boland thought he, and the Blues’ scrum dominance, was the difference.
“Mike killed us,” he said.
“Our fellas went too high on him.”
They also got “belted” in the penalty count.
His statistics had the count at 10-6 against them in the first half and 9-3 in the second.
“There was a fair bit of ill-discipline,” he said.
Tom Kent topped the points and was outstanding for them at number eight.
David James and Lachie Fletcher, who is normally a five-eighth but was playing half-back, were also strong.