The pieces of the puzzle finally fell into place for Tamworth on Saturday.
Galvanized by the disappointment and frustration of their poor showing against Barbarians, the Magpies produced their most complete performance of the season to topple competition leaders Armidale to notch their maiden win in the New England competition
The 26-12 triumph was a watershed result for the Magpies, who had lost three of their games by three points or less and were unlucky not to get the points in their previous clash with the Blues.
“[It’s] Brilliant,” Magpies skipper Matt Blanch said about getting that first win.
“Good to put some points on the board and now we’ve just got to back it up and try and start to climb up the ladder.”
A deflated man seven days earlier, Magpies coach Peter Burke couldn’t hide his delight at what he witnessed.
“They finally produced the football that I know they can,” he said, adding that they couldn’t have played better in lots of facets of the game.
“They were mentally prepared and got on with the job and they executed the game plan almost perfectly.”
That was something Blanch also touched on.
“The pleasing aspect for us was to execute a game plan. We didn’t want to play down our own half we wanted to kick the ball down in the corners and we played most of the footy in their half for most of the game,” he said.
There was an obvious intensity about the Magpies’ from the opening whistle.
“We really got into the fight, loved the fight and got on top, led by our forwards.
“And our centres really set some good line speed and cut out any potency they might have had in their backs. And that really laid a platform for us in attack to spread the ball wide and it was good to see the ball get into our wingers hands and score a couple of tries outwide,” Blanch said.
Jacob Williams bagged a double with wing counterpart Daniel Onus scoring the Magpies’ third try. Flying down the left touchline and onto a perfectly-weighted and placed grubber from five-eighth Nick Humphries right on half-time, Onus’ five-pointer gave the Magpies a 20-nil lead at half-time after Williams had crossed for his second only a couple of minutes earlier.
On the weight of possession and territory they should have led by more but they couldn’t kick a penalty to save themselves and on numerous occasions having got in behind the Blues’ defence coughed up the ball.
And while they could only manage two penalty goals in the second half they always looked to have control of the game.
The Blues did rally late scoring two tries in the last five minutes but the damage had been done by then.
It was a haphazard performance from the visitors but Blues co-coach Luke Stephen paid full credit to the Magpies.
“Tamworth were far superior to us at the tackle and the breakdown and that in the modern game leads to not having the ball,” Stephen said.
And when they did they tended to knock it on after only a few phases.
“Our attack didn’t click into gear until the 75th minute. That was a direct result of the pressure Tamworth put on in defence and their intensity over the ball,” Stephen said.
The Blues did show some good resilience in defence. Particularly in the first half they had to do a lot of defending on their line.