Shore v Barker
by “former flanker”
A try-fest in the second half gave Shore a well-structured win over Barker in their first trial game against each other in ten years.
After leading 14-7 at half time the Shore try-scorers put themselves into overdrive to run up a 48-7 full time score.
Shore’s opening try came before the crowd had settled into their seats as a sweeping move down the right hand flank resulted in a 5-pointer at the one minute mark.
The players and supporters were already enthusiastic before the match, but the try and the successful conversion had them salivating even more about the rest of the game.
Barker had other ideas though. Despite being undermanned with several key players out through injury, they generated good field position and pressured the Shore try line. Whilst a couple of mistakes were made in attack, they kept driving for the line.
Barker’s focus was rewarded after a chip and chase was misread by two Shore backs and a swiftly-chasing Falito van Woerkon snatched the bouncing ball and scored under the posts. Matthew Nevison converted.
Shore responded with a try after a good maul from a lineout and the successful conversion from the sideline led to oranges and a scoreline of 14 – 7 to Shore.
The first half had been punctuated by many penalties against Shore, who lost field position and attacking advantages by giving away many full penalties and some free kicks. The tight head prop was sin binned for a scrum infringement in the midst of the avalanche of penalties they conceded.
The bitter-sweet nature of rugby was evidenced towards the end of the half when Barker forwards and backs joined in a rolling maul, which advanced 20 glorious metres – only to see Shore awarded the resultant scrum after the maul collapsed.
In an unusual move, the ref made an effort to speak at length to the Shore coach at half time. It was an effective strategy: whatever was said between the two led to a changed approach by Shore in the second half and sensible game management from the ref. Rugby was the winner.
Shore’s variety of attacking options was on vivid display all through the second half, as they scored 34 unanswered points.
Juggling a rugby ball whilst running at full pace is not easy but Shore had a speedster do just that as he broke through Barker’s midfield defence to score under the sticks. Barker showed its customary determination by charging down the attempted conversion.
Two tries to Shore’s left winger started near the half way line. In each case he beat defenders with an outside swerve and sheer pace. During this half Shore used both centres and the no.8 to punch holes in Barker’s centre-field defence.
An alternative strategy also gave Shore many metres – wide ball to their speedy back three. Both techniques led to tries and valuable field position. Long-distance tries and ball-in-hand breakouts from inside their own 22 became the norm as the half progressed.
Barker players tried hard in their individual positions. It was as units in attack as well as defence that they fell down, a problem exacerbated by the players they were missing.
Shore’s kick and chase was strong. The Barker players would do well to retrieve an upfield kick but be swamped by two or three fast arriving Shore chasers. This led to Shore playing on the front foot from scrum and lineout wins, with an added advantage of quick ball from the breakdown.
The Barker team named Shore No. 11 – Ed Gregory as their player of the match at the after match speeches. I would say 15 – Luke Rixon could consider himself unlucky not to snatch this award amongst a host of Shore players worthy of note including 13-Sheehan and 1-Edwards.
Shore will go into the regular season with a well-balanced team and two good wins against CAS schools under their belt. Confidence will be high, as will the realisation that they will need to step up again to be successful next week against Scots.
Barker had size and willingness—and with a full complement they will a better attacking team. Their defence will also improve as players remember to move up quickly and in a straight line.
Shore’s eight tries were the reward for dominant forward play and clever use of the ball by their centres. Straight running drew defenders in and wide passes unleashed the very fast fullback and wingers. If they can take this form into the GPS season Shore will be very competitive.
Shore 48 (Tries – L. Rixon 3, E. Gregory 2, A. Doyle, H. Wallace, R. Allen; M. Sinclair 2, H. Sheehan 2 cons) def. Barker 7 (F. van Woerkem try; con)