On Saturday the 2nd of May, two great teams clashed on Knox’s no. 1 oval. The two rival schools, Barker College and Knox Grammar came together in the pouring rain to fight it out for the first round of CAS rugby in the 2015 rugby season.
Despite the dismal weather, the stands were packed with not a seat to spare as an air of tension settled over the ground. The Knox team looking especially fit and ready this year. Knox’s new coach and head of rugby had worked wonders with the players physical and mental approach to the game.
Barker is a much smaller side, but had spent much of their off-season in the gym doing vast amounts of strength and agility training as they would have to rely on their speed and stamina to outrun Knox in this David and Goliath contest.
The buzz of the spectators rose to it’s climax as Barker kicked off and another memorable game of footy consisting of great runs and big hits was underway.
Barker got off to a flying start, showing an fantastic display of strength and aggression as they kept the ball on Knox’s 22 following the kick off. Barker used their speed to their advantage, immediately applying pressure to Knox with great runs breaking the line of defence by Bruce Thompson and Falito van Woerkom on the left wing.
However, the Barker forwards were too small for the likes of Knox’s 6 Lachlan Swinton and hooker Nick Rowell, as they barged into the Barker ruck and turned possession over. Knox’s 11 David Stenning then cleared the ball into touch, back into Barkers half, but Barker managed to regain there lost ground with another aggressive attack at the Knox defence.
Only a few minutes into the game, Barker’s Simon Pursell was given a tidy switch ball, from number 10 Bruce Thompson, finding a gap in Knox’s tough defence and scoring the first try of the match.
Off the restart, Barker once again attacked with the same unexpected speed and ferocity as half-back Lachlan Bluett quickly got it out to the backs for more big runs by Bruce Thompson and Andrew Saar.
Barker was no match for Knox’s shear size in the rucks as once again the ball was turned over and Knox was on the attack. Knox looked threatening as they picked up steam and started throwing number six Lachlan Swinton and number their eight Milan Basson at Barkers tight defence, but managed to push them back into their own half.
With great tackles from Simon Pursell and Bruce Thompson, Barker was able to withstand the hard-hitting Knox forwards and once again the ball found it’s way into Barkers possession.
Half-back Lachlan Bluett then served up a towering box-kick down the left side of the field, heading for touch. With only a meter from going out, the ball managed to stay in long enough for Barkers number eleven Falito van Woerkom to beat the Knox full-back to the ball by executing an amazing slide to keep possession and was quickly followed by forwards Andy Lloyd and Simon Pursell to secure the ruck.
Catching Knox on the back foot, Barker got back in control of the match and forced play back into Knox’s 22. Barker’s 9 Lachlan Bluett’s clean ball from the back of a ruck, on the right side of the field, quickly found it’s way too 12 Andrew Saar who delivered a perfect pop to Haakon Barry as he accelerated through a break in the Knox line to score the second try of the match for Barker.
Barker was off to an early 10 point lead and the Knox crowd grew anxious.
However, their concerns did not last for long as Knox came back off the restart with equal intensity, but looked more menacing as they gained possession in Barkers half. Using their large forwards as battering rams in the backline, Knox was able to break Barkers line of defence on the left wing as Lachlan Swinton scored the first try for Knox.
Looking like they’d gained a lot of confidence, Knox was back into Barkers half of the field following the kick off and looked like they were just warming up.
Another big run by Lachlan Swinton was held up by the Barker defence, however Knox used their large forwards to start a rolling maul towards Barker’s try line. The maul then collapsed over the line and the try was confirmed as Lachlan Swinton had now scored the second try for Knox before the half time whistle sounded.
Despite getting off to a fast start, Barker was trailing 12-10 at halftime.
The whistle sounded for the second half and Knox’s number 11 David Stenning kicked off. Instantly the Knox players tightened their grip on the match by keeping the ball in Barkers 22. Knox seemed to be a lot more in sync now than the first half, with quick clean ball to the backline and strong forward runners.
Knox, looking in control, were immediately awarded a penalty for Barker not rolling away after the tackle. They decided to go for points and David Stenning successfully converted, extending Knox’s lead.
After the restart, Barker were forced straight back onto their 5 as Barkers Lachlan Small and Tim Anstey both gave away penalties, allowing Knox to go for touch close to the Barker try line. However, Barker were awarded a penalty on their 5 meter line and Brad Caddey went for touch with a magnificent boot to allow Barker to escape their half.
Knox swiftly returned to form as Armstrong made a fast break down the left side of the field for Knox with a great offload to number 7 Harry Chapman who got it over the Barker try line.
Knox 24 – Barker 10
Barker did not lose hope as they kept their defence tight with Lachlan Small and Andy Lloyd using clean leg tackles to take down their towering Knox opponents. This excellent defence was short-lived as Knox’s number 8 Milan Basson was able to find a gap and scored the fourth try for Knox.
The rest of the half was in Knox’s possession as they had Barker exactly where they wanted them; on the back foot. But it was not without some sparkling moments of defence from Barker with a big tackle on the left wing by fullback Haakon Barry and the defensive line racing up on the Knox attack.
Barker did not prevail in there attempts to shut down the Knox attack and it was an onslaught by the bulky Knox boys as number 8 Basson scored again, quickly followed by another try by Knox number 15 Leo Bosh off the back of a great run by number 12 Joe Williams down the middle of the field.
Knox was up 41 – Barker’s 10
With a few minutes left, Barker knew that they were not able to win but they did not give up, putting on a courageous effort and put on some great tackles, without dropping their form in defence. With big hits from the likes of Lachlan Small and many attempts to change possession from aggressive rucking by Andy Lloyd, Barker was trying very hard to not go down without a fight.
Once again Barkers efforts to shut down Knox’s backline were not good enough as Knox’s number 12 Joe Williams made an excellent break down the right side of the field outrunning the Barker defence and scoring the final try of the match in dramatic fashion with a swan dive over the line.
Knox’s number 11 David Stenning keeping up his impeccable form executed a perfect conversion to finish the match.
At full time the scores were 48 – 10 to Knox Grammar School.