Farrer chasing unique double

FARRER Memorial Agricultural High School’s open rugby league side continues its blossoming season with a Grafton test this week.

Skipper Tom Say (7) congratulates Matt Thompson (middle) after his intercept try, with centre Tye Barry (right) joining in the celebration. Photo: Gareth Gardner  170714GGA05

Skipper Tom Say (7) congratulates Matt Thompson (middle) after his intercept try, with centre Tye Barry (right) joining in the celebration. Photo: Gareth Gardner 170714GGA05

The Chris Oxford-coached First XIII tackles South Grafton High School in a University Shield knockout match on Thursday.

Last Thursday, the Farrer side beat St Gregory’s Campbelltown 26-10 in a GIO Schoolboy Cup match at John Simpson Oval, Farrer.

That earned Farrer a berth in the final eight of the Schoolboy Cup and a date with an as yet unknown Sydney school in mid-August.

However the University Shield takes centre stage this week.

“It was a great platform to work off,” Oxford said of Thursday’s win over St Greg’s for both the Schoolboy Cup and Uni Shield.

“The boys hadn’t trained together for three weeks. 

“They’d only had two sessions since they’ve been back from holidays.

“To play like that was pretty impressive.”

There were plenty of standouts for Farrer.

Props Zac Faulkner and Brad Johnston led the way.

Faulkner’s energetic mobility was countered by Johnston’s big tackle-busting runs.

Hooker Corey Manicaros was cool and collected, a natural footballer with a footballer’s brain.

Backrowers Matt Merrick, Jack Ticehurst and Ryan Horton, who played despite a knee problem, worked hard while red-headed lock Angus McTavish, in the fashion of another former champion redheaded lock (Alan Tongue), was outstanding.

McTavish worked tirelessly in attack and defence all game, sending his small frame up against much bigger opponents time and time again.

Oxford and skipper Tom Say marvel at his work rate.

“He’s not big but he keeps going,” Say said.

“He just loves it.”

Say and 16-year-old five-eighth Josh Bermingham are forming a good combination while electric 15-year-old fullback Hayden Loughrey is a player of great potential.

Centres Trent Eather and Tye Barry also impressed, Barry scoring two opportunistic tries and Eather completing a mountain of work, backing up his forward pack with some strong runs in close.

“We’re not big but it was a big effort against a bigger side,” Oxford added.

“We scrambled well.”

Say said a lot of that defensive effort comes from a strong bond between the players.

“We’re all pretty tight,” he said.

“It was a great win. I’m proud of them all. 

“We defended really well, especially in the second half.”

While a great fan of  McTavish’s commitment, he is also enjoying playing with Bermingham, who represented, with Loughrey, the Country Under 16s in Queensland earlier this month.

“He’s a good player, only 16.

“He and Hayden are both young and go very well.”

They also play above their years and are leading the side rather than just fitting in as younger cadets.

Say also knows props Faulkner and Johnston are key men.

“They give us good go-forward, the goalkicking halfback said.

“And they are great defenders too.”

If Farrer can eradicate the errors that highlighted its  first-half fall from a 12-nil lead to a 12-10 advantage, then it might go a long way in both the Cup and Shield.

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