Armidale tightens grip on minor premiership

THE Armidale Blues secured top spot and essentially a minor premiership at Bellevue Oval on Saturday when they handed St Alberts a 33-11 point defeat.

With Guyra upsetting the second-placed Robb at home in the other fixture, the gap between first and second has become an 18-point gulf.

After only one loss this year, to Albies in round two, the Blues sit on top with 44 points.

Both student sides have once again paid the price of university holidays by both losing the last two rounds.

This leaves Robb in third place on 24 points and Albies in third on 17.

Albies have earnt that third place with just three wins.

Barbarians are coming last on 13 points, also with three wins, with Guyra in fourth with three wins as well on 16 points.

Despite the good win and ladder position, Blues coach Alan Jones said the side still hadn’t put a comprehensive 80 minutes together.

“I am very pleased with how the season is going,” Jones said.

“But we haven’t quite put in a full performance.”

The Blues gave the students a few chances early on with some turnovers and lost ball.

Fortunately for the premiers, the students’ attack was missing a bit of sting this week and they weren’t able to fully capitalise.

“Luckily our defence was up to the task,” Jones said.

“Our scramble was very good and Albies always like to chance their arm.

“We worked on a straight line of defence and let them come to us a bit which frustrated them.” 

The Blues also dominated the set piece, although Albies did use their defensive lineout effectively and, with Armidale’s first and second-string hooker missing as well as throwing prop Pete Cummins, there were a few wobbly balls.

Armidale scored tries off some set pieces but also punished Albies in broken play, scoring more tries than the scoreline reflected after Josh Croft had a poor day with the boot.

Mike TeMoana and Ed Hiscox were the stand-outs in the pack, with John Roberts shining in the centres.

With some glimpses of very good football and such a huge lead on the table, the Blues can now sit back and work on that comprehensive 80 minutes knowing that they will get a home semi and a second chance if they need it.

The situation is going to make it very difficult for the other sides to prevent Armidale taking  back to back premierships like Albies in 2011-12.

“A comprehensive 80 minutes is coming,” Jones said.

“Slowly but surely it is coming.”


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