It was third time lucky in Tamworth for Armidale on Saturday as the Blues overturned a half-time deficit to post their fifth win of the season.
Trailing Tamworth 13-5 at the break, the Blues dominated the second half to eke out a 17-13 victory.
It's their first in three visits to Tamworth and firms their hold on a top two spot heading into the second half of the season.
They are with Saturday's win now 16-points clear of the third-placed Magpies, and four behind competition-leaders St Alberts, who snuck home 28-22 over Barbarians in the other game.
"We're six rounds through a 12-round competition, we've won five and lost one by one point.
"We're exactly where we want to be," Blues coach Luke Stephen said.
He said on Saturday they made things "a lot harder" for themselves early with some silly mistakes and poor options.
"But fortunately for us we were able to still stay within striking distance.
"To go into half-time only down 13-5 definitely put the guys in the right mindset," he said.
"We knew that we weren't running into the sun in the second half and that just set the scene for what was a strong defensive and ball control performance in that second 40."
"We were able to build phases, build pressure; Tamworth were lucky to get over half way in the second half."
Thomas Morgan got them back within three points 13 minutes in, the ever-green John Roberts then putting them ahead for the first time in the game with 12 to play.
There were a few nervous moments in the last 10 minutes, turning over a bit of a ball.
"But fortunately with the game on the line Matt Williams did Matt Williams things and stole a lineout and we were able to kick it out and take the win," Stephen said.
Williams was among their best. Nick Bartlett was also outstanding at six, he said.
They were well supported by skipper Jack Grant.
Stephen also made mention of a couple of performances off the bench, notably Sam Brazier and Jack Martin.
Magpies coach Peter Burke would have also thrown Roberts into that mix. He rates the Blues stalwart one of the best footballers in the zone and thought he had a big influence on the game.
"Wherever he goes the play goes that way," he said.
He paid credit to the Blues for the way they played, particularly in the second half.
"I think Armidale outplayed us, in particular at the tackle in the second half and they controlled the ball really really well," Burke said.
"We didn't and couldn't rectify that problem so when we got the ball with field position we only held onto it for one or two phases, turned it over and they managed to hold it for lots of phases."
There was some improvement in the performance.
Burke was very happy with the first half, quipping that it's probably the "calmest" he's been at half-time all year.
"But as a team we need to be able to capitalise on our opportunities," he said.
He thought Barker brothers Jack and Darcy both had strong games. Tom Croake was also strong again.
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