OXLEY High claimed a memorable Peel Schools Secondary Opens title at Scully Park yesterday.
The Tamworth school staved off a second-half surge from Tamworth High to win what was effectively the final 16-12 and collect the winner’s pennant for possibly the first time.
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It would have been a long time ago if they’d ever won the opens division.
PE teacher Gordon Rae couldn’t recall winning one in his 14 years at the school.
They had to dig deep, with Tamworth High coming hard at them in the second half.
It was all Tamworth High on the scoreboard as it answered Oxley’s 16-point first-half effort with 12 unanswered points.
“They used the ball a bit better and our boys got a bit tired,” Oxley coach Joe Craigie said.
Fortunately they had enough of a lead thanks to some “good forward movement and a couple of good plays through the backs”.
That was what set it up for them, Craigie said.
The win was a somewhat belated success for him too.
“I played in a lot of Peel Schools Carnivals with Narrabri,” he recalled.
But never won one.
He had a great time with the boys and couldn’t have been happier with the way they played with limited time together.
They only had two weeks to train.
“It was a great effort,” Craigie said.
He was so impressed he said it would be great to see more competition for them.
“The best thing for me was the boys’ attitude. They were happy to be playing and having a day off school and played hard,” Craigie said.
Their combination was another feature.
They talked well, in attack and defence, and played some great sets, Craigie said.
“We had a couple of good organisers in five-eighth Jeremy Swan and Luke Byrnes in the forwards,” he added.
Byrnes was adjudged the best and fairest player for the day for the opens.
47 teams contested yesterday’s secondary divisions, with Farrer taking out the most successful school
They won the 13 and 14A divisions and were runners-up in the 16s.