Narrabri reignited their spluttering campaign after blunting a North Tamworth fightback to record their second win of the season over the reigning three-time premiers.
The weak defence and resolve, which allowed Gunnedah to score 50 unanswered points in a 50-22 win over the Blues last round, was fixed against the Bears in a 20-18 win at picturesque Collins Park in Narrabri on Sunday.
In a high quality, intense clash, the Blues jumped to a 12-0 lead with three first-half tries. Zippy winger Isaiah Adams crossed for two en route to a hat-trick.
Adams’ first try, scored in the left-side corner, came after a period of sustained Blues pressure and back-to-back penalties to the home side.
His second try followed Narrabri repelling the Bears’ attack deep in their own half, and then slicing Norths up the middle. Blues halfback Justin Knight then made a mini break down the left side of the field and passed to a flying Adams, who crossed in the corner.
Narrabri’s third try materialised when Knight propped some five metres out from Norths’ tryline and placed a deft grubber kick for winger Toby Bentley, who won the race to the ball to score out wide.
It remained 12-0 at the break, with Bears captain Scott Blanch, a former Manly signing, taking it upon himself to drag his side back into the match.
Operating on the left edge, Blanch scored two solo tries from close range early in the second half.
For the first try, he went himself about seven metres out from tryline, when nothing looked on, and crashed over with a couple of defenders hanging off him.
The second try also came from nothing, with him receiving the ball at first receiver and again backing himself.
Centre Richard Clegg converted both tries and it was 12-12.
At that stage, Narrabri looked vulnerable. But with replacement Brenton Cochrane providing spark from dummy half and their defence shored up, the Blues had regrouped.
A Knight penalty goal that made it 14-12 was followed by Adams scoring his third try.
One minute the Bears were on the offence deep in Narrabri’s half and next minute the Blues were attacking Norths’ tryline. Cochrane scooped up a loose pass about 10 metres out and fired a longish ball to Adams, and the little man knows how to finish.
North Tamworth hit back when Blanch made a break down the left edge in the Blues’ half and offloaded for teenage replacement Jamarley Jerrad to score.
Clegg converted to make it 20-18.
Blues coach John Rumsby said: “Really impressed with how we defended, especially in the second half.
“Yeah, we made a few mistakes. But it was as good a game of football as I’ve seen all year … Credit to Norths. They’re a real good football side.
“I’m just real happy for our guys that they got a win because of the effort that they put in today.”