The Armidale School’s First XV had a strong start to the GPS Third Grade competition, defeating Sydney Grammar Firsts 35-0 in a stunning performance at home on Saturday (14 May). It was the first time since 2012 that TAS Firsts defeated Grammar’s top team and a victory made all the more sweeter for the 18 year olds in the team, who had never defeated their Grammar counterparts in age fixtures over the years.
Grammar’s defence held a buoyant TAS for most of the first half, until TAS scrum half Jack Radford crossed the line towards the end of the first half, converted by Lachlan Thomas. Keen to add more points to the board, TAS stepped up a notch in the second half in the face of a tiring Grammar, with the first of two tries to outside centre Andrew Knight, a second try to Radford and one to Oliver Mayhew Sanders, all converted by the accurate boot of Thomas.
Coach Alex Smith said the result was a great achievement for the boys over a team that included two GPS Seconds representatives and after a 33-0 win over Sydney Boys’ High the previous week.
“We knew they were going to be a very good side and focussed on defence all week so we could put as much pressure on them as we could and get them to move away from their game plan. The backs have been playing well all season but the forwards stepped up massively and put on lots of pressure, dominating their forward pack and forcing errors,” he said.
“Early in the second half we had a two try buffer but wanted to extend on that to apply more pressure. The games being only twenty five minute halves means that if you’re behind you need to play catch-up rugby and this played into our hands.”
The game was not without injury with TAS back Samuel Jackson-Bolton rolled his ankle whilst making a break down the sideline, but Smith hopes he will be fit for duty against the King’s School’s Thirds in Sydney next weekend.
“We knew Grammar were possible premiership contenders so our first goal was to put in a good performance against them. This solid win should give the boys confidence in their ability but there is still lots of hard work to be done, including winning some tough games on the road,” Smith said.
The TAS Second XV defeated Grammar 17-5, while the Thirds faced Scots PGC from Warwick and notched up a 31-7 win. In lower age division games, Grammar had six wins, and TAS took two.
All rugby teams from both schools wore a single sock as part of a campaign run by with batyr, an organisation that focuses on preventative education in the area of youth mental health.