FARRER kept their University Shield hopes alive with a 38-24 win over South Grafton High in Grafton yesterday.
Coach Chris Oxford was pleased with the win but wasn’t impressed with some aspects of the side’s play.
Blake Withers came off the bench to replace the injured Zac Faulkner in the front row and shone, crashing over for two tries.
Discipline around the ruck let the side down, with South Grafton scoring points on the back of repeat sets.
“We did a lot of defending when we should have been attacking,” Oxford said.
“We put together some very fluid plays in the backs when we had the ball.
“But everyone was off defensively.”
South Grafton had very crafty halves who tested the line a lot.
Fullback Hayden Loughrey was playing quite deep defensively and the home side took full advantage.
The home side put several short kicks in behind the line that tested Farrer’s scramble.
“They were very good on their feet and the short kicks tested us,” Oxford said.
“We should have adjusted but didn’t.”
While Withers and fellow prop Brad Johnston were solid in the middle, the side did miss the energy and commitment of injured lock Angus McTavish.
“Angus makes 40 tackles an hour and this game went for 70 minutes,” Oxford said.
“He has so much enthusiasm and chat that we did notice he wasn’t there.”
A big positive to come out of the game was the effort of the younger players and fringe players.
“I had six Year 10 players in the squad,” Oxford said.
“They really stepped up and I got to give them a lot of minutes.”
While Withers was the stand-out, Brad Fisk also had a big game at second row, and Marcus Hayne impressed with his attack on the wing.
Harrison Buhler had a good presence in the middle and Cameron Howard proved he has a good finish with a winger’s try.
Farrer is now through to the final eight and, after winning the shield every second year for the past six years, is due for another.
Its next opponent for both the University Shield and the GIO Cup will be known sometime next week.