Injury and the holiday season stole many players from the Barker old Boys force for all grades, but the colts and firsts were still able to stick it to the visitors from Oatley.
Both teams seemed hesitant in the early stages of the first grade match up, a lot of messy play slowing down the pace of the game. A game characterised by defensive strength lay ahead for Oatley as the Bobs side only needed time to administer attacking pressure.
Newcomer Tavita Alipate was making some damaging runs on the right wing for the Bobs side from an early stage, but Oatley seemed to be holding fairly strong.
The anticipation of a breakthrough was broken as Tom Beverley, fly-half, gave a perfect pop dragging inside centre Marcus Ap into a hole and over the try line.
The strength of both forward packs were tested, especially on restart as a young, physical Barker pack clashed with a very big Oatley pack.
Bobs managed to consolidate possession in a maul off the kick off, pushing all the way into Oatley’s half until second rower Tom Mackenzie broke free and gave the ball to Michael Fagan for a short break away.
Consistent forward ball saw the game become a mater of grinding down the opposition, an age spent in the Oatley 22 finally ended by a try to halfback Henry Hammond.
Off the restart, Oatley showed they were not down and out, the massive second rower (4) regaining possession for his side. The ball was snapped out to fly-half Marc Carberry who strangely went for the drop goal and got it.
The score was now 14-3 and such a tactic seemed a very weird decision at this point in the game.
Like much of the game, the next 10-or-so minutes were defined by gruelling back and forth, the majority of ball play being made by the Bobs side, but little ground being gained.
Strong running was displayed by Chris Hensley in inside centre and Hayden Burns from number 8 but defence to match was returned.
Breaking the gruelling back and forth in centre field, Alex Nicholls crafted one of his classic break-throughs formed from nothing. A dropped ball was swooped up by the winger who managed to duck in and out of 4 tackle attempts and conceal another try for the boys in red and blue. However Oatley again managed to turn the kick off over, utilising their crane-sized second-rower Jamie Tavui to pluck the ball out of the air.
The ball was then quickly shot out to the right winger Paul Meann who got over for a try bring the score to 19-8 after the conversion from the side-line was missed.
More uniform back-and-forth was displayed the rest of the half, Oatley’s athletic prop Tavite Sakopo managing to break the defensive line and chip and chase but was stopped.
As per usual, the beginning of the second half had lifted intensity from each side but it wouldn’t be long until the Oatley side slumped in form. Bobs scrums were under high pressure as Oatley’s size paid off for them for a while.
Oatley used their chances to form a solid attack, however another strange kicking attempt from 30 metres out was charged-down and turned over by Bobs inside centre, Marcus Ap.
A quick break up the mid was then handed off to Tom Beverley who ran the rest of the way for another try to Bobs. Oatley’s game dropped noticeably at this point as a mixture of confusion and possible dismay seemed to overwhelm them.
Oatley’s defence had been strong all day considering what had been thrown at them. Chris Hensely used the confusion to consolidate Bobs position with another try as a broken defensive line allowed him free passage to the try line.
The score was now 31-8 and there wasn’t a lot Oatley could do to win from here even though it still was only early in the second half.
Oatley’s stand out player, inside centre Marc Carberry was determined to score for his side, using chip and chases to apply pressure on the Bobs side. However, this was originally done to no effect after Tom Williamson was able to extinguish these attempts from his full-back position.
The dying sparks of the game were to follow with either team making minimal impact as two drained forces slogged it out. A big run from Jamie Tavui playing in number 8 now was displayed as he used his size off a scrum to slam his way down the field.
Fragmentation from a pause in play for a head-knock injury caused lack-lustre defence from the Bobs side as Oatley easily used their inside centre Carberry to crash over the try line for the final try of the game.
31-15 was the final score.