THE Armidale School's First XV rugby season got off to winning start on Saturday, defeating Orange's Kinross Wolaroi School for only the second time in a decade-long history of engagement.
Hosted by Coolah Rugby Club when the oval in the traditional meeting place Coonabarabran was unavailable, the fixtures brought together 15s, 16s and two Open sides who revelled in muddy conditions.
The TAS 15s went down narrowly to Kinross 7-0 in a tightly contested match, with the southerners proving too strong in the 16s (36-0) and the Seconds (24-0).
While the TAS Firsts had not tasted victory over Kinross since the very first encounter in 2012, there was plenty of faith and commitment from TAS who had ascendancy early into the game, when ball was won from a ruck and passed out the backline to fullback Liam Hunt who crossed the line in the right hand corner.
TAS failed to slot the conversion and shortly after Kinross hit back with their own try before TAS missed an opportunity after a turnover on their tryline, leaving the score at 5-all at the half.
After oranges, TAS put sustained pressure on the opposition with debutant outside centre Ned Goodwin going over the line to the left of the posts and Mac Orr converting, to take the score to 12- 5.
While Kinross defended valiantly, TAS maintained a glut of possession to the final bell, taking the match, the Coonabarabran Cup and with it, a monkey off their back since their inaugural 23-20 win in 2012.
TAS First XV coach Huon Barrett - previously at Kinross where he had coached many Opens teams - said early season preparation and a tightness amongst a core group of good players contributed strongly to the win.
"The team includes boys who have played well over a number of years and now joined by some strong Year 11 boys. Starting rugby training early last term with early morning fitness and skills sessions helped, as did a week long development camp at Kinross in April, which included a character building loss to Cranbrook and a narrow loss to Kinross, so they were ready to put in a good performance at Coolah," he said.
TAS will have a full book this season with the North West Regional Youth competition for all age groups kicking off in Tamworth this Friday night and the GPS Thirds competition commencing on May 21 against Sydney Boys' High, at TAS.
The 16As and 15As will also play home and away GPS fixtures.
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