The Armidale School’s First XV thrilled a home ground crowd on Saturday, booking a 24-6 win over Sydney Grammar’s Firsts in a tight encounter. In just their second game together the TAS team put on a polished display of well-tuned rugby to reverse the fortunes of a loss the previous weekend at Coonabarabran against Orange’s Kinross Wolaroi School, who were playing their fourth match of the year.
Cold winds made for bracing conditions, but there was plenty of warmth in the sheds and on the sidelines for the blue and white boys who had been presented with their jerseys by two Old Boy Australian rugby representatives at the official season launch the evening before. Former Queensland Red and Wallaby tourist Adrian ‘Moose’ Skeggs and Australian Schoolboys and under 21s player Michael Forsythe offered inspiration to the players, spoke about their careers and the spirit of rugby at the event and backed up to watch the game the next morning.
The first half was tightly contested with the visitors staking the ground early, missing one penalty but following up with a successful one to put the first points on the board. A try to Dan Lethbridge put TAS in front before the visitors again benefited from the ref’s whistle with a penalty leaving the score at 5-6 to Grammar at half time.
TAS dominated the second half with tries to Alex Kirk, Joshua Jones and Hamish Cannington and a conversion by Will Swales, culminating in the match going to TAS.
“The boys went in hard and our defence was a dramatic step up in physicality both in terms of Kinross last weekend and how Grammar played last year. We need to be playing direct, forward-running, abrasive and physical rugby and the boys returning from last year really set the example to those who have come up from the 16s,” said coach AJ Whalley.
While strong winds made kicking and lineouts challenging, Whalley said he was proud of the way the team came together in just its second outing. “There’s a depth in the squad that hasn’t there in the past couple of years and I think we’re further ahead in our development so that augurs well for the matches ahead.”
Grammar took out the Second XV fixture 14-10, with eight fixtures in lower grades evenly split.
TAS hosts Sydney’s Cranbrook School before the last pre-GPS fixture against St Gregory’s College Campbelltown and the first round of the AAGPS Third Grade competition against The Scots College on 2 June.