Both student sides lose in New England openers

THE STUDENTS didn’t fare well in the opening round of New England rugby, with only five teams competing in the top grade this year.

The Barbarians came from behind to beat Albies in a very tight encounter 23-17while the Blues touched up Robb 33-8.

Baa Baas coach Sam Piddington said it was a bit of a sloppy game with a fair few dropped balls and loose passes from both sides as they hosted the students.

“It was a very stop-start typical start to the season,” Piddington said.

“We slugged it out and got a good win from behind though. It is positive at the start of the season.”

Albies opened the scoring although the Baa Baas hit right back with a try and a couple of penalties of their own.

Another Albies try saw them go into the sheds down only one point 11-10.

The students opened the scoring again in the second half and held the lead for the next half an hour.

With ten minutes to go, Baa Baas number eight Sam Gates broke the line and offloaded for the ball to eventually find Dom Bower on the wing who dived over for Baa Baas to regain  the lead 23-17.

“We held out at the end and managed to get away with it,” Piddington said.

Fullback Keith Ellis and inside centre Joe Piddington impressed, holding off the wide attacking raids of the students.

Captain and hooker Nick Dooner also had a solid game.

“We have got some improving to do but, with a bit of luck, we should be there,” Piddington said.

Second-rower Ollie Bartlett was Albies’ best.

In the other game, Armidale schooled the students in the first half to win 33-8.

The Blues ran riot over an unorganised Robb defence in the first half, scoring all of their 33 points.

Robb was a lot better in the second half but the damage had  already been  done.

Robb coach Jim Boland is confident the side will be competitive this season after showing a lot of determination in the second half.

“It is hard with clubs like this that don’t have any 50- gamers and old heads like that,” Boland said.

“The boys didn’t have any ball in that first half but when they got some they looked all right.

“They need some more time together.”

Number eight Will Archer impressed in his first game for the club, as did second-rower Sebastian Dunhill.

Guyra had the bye on the weekend.

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