1 loss in 3 seasons: Consistency key to Barker’s CAS dominance
Barker held off a determined Knox outfit on Saturday to claim a 38-32 victory and secure back to back CAS premierships for the fourth time in the schools history.
Needing to win to secure the outright title and complete an undefeated CAS season, Barker produced a typically consistent performance against their closest rivals and have now lost just one match (by a point) in their past three CAS seasons.
“It was a real contest between two really determined teams. We jumped ahead a little bit but to Knox’s credit, they kept coming at us and our guys had to keep finding answers,” coach Dean Hargreaves said.
“Fortunately for us, we were able to do that but it was a really exciting game, probably more so for the spectators than the nervous coaches.”
Most pundits expected Barker to struggle slightly in 2019 after a number of key players graduated following the 2018 premiership, but Hargreaves said the current group had different ideas from day one.
“I was quietly confident that we’d be more than competitive and that we could give it a good shake but it was a very different group to last year,” he said.
“A lot of guys didn’t come with a big reputation this year but with a lot of hard work and development, they realised their potential and surprised a few people.
“It some areas of the game, they were probably better than last year’s group and they were able to develop their own style of play and execute it week after week.”
The coach said consistency was the difference between his side and the remainder of the competition, who all lost at least two matches in a tightly contested premiership.
“Our guys knew that they each had an individual role to play and they stuck to that each week.
“Whether the game was in the balance or not, they stuck to their roles and that’s something we worked really hard on and are really proud of.”
Saturday’s win wasn’t the only reason to celebrate for Barker fans over the weekend, with Adrian Brown, Jordan Cameron, Billy Pollard and Lucas Vass all selected in the NSW U18s squad to play QLD and ACT next month for spots in the Australian Schools squad.
“Unfortunately Lucas Vass broke his collarbone in the last play of the game on Saturday, so it’s disappointing that he’ll miss those games but we’re really excited for the other boys,” Hargreaves said.
“They’ve also got HSC Trials on at the moment so it’s a pretty busy time but I think they’re looking forward to playing with a new bunch of guys and pushing for further honours.”
Following that, Hargreaves and a new look Barker squad will begin preparations for 2020, where they’ll look to claim a third straight outright CAS Premiership, something that’s only been done three times in the competition’s 90-year history and not since 1952.
“We’ll have a reasonable number of kids back again and our seconds were really competitive this year so those guys will push through along with some talented boys from the 16s and 15s.
“We’re already looking forward to the challenge.”