The weather was the most significant factor in Round 5 of the Sydney GPS competition.
Frequent rain squalls from the north-east lashed the fields at Hunters Hill, Northbridge and Bellevue Hill; the secret to winning was to handle the conditions better than the other team did.
The fixtures ended the first half of the competition but already the table was split in two. The big match was at Bellevue Hill where Scots, with only one loss to date, was hosting undefeated Riverview.
Joeys v Newington
by “Lee Grant”
Joeys had a gale behind them but they got a modest return from it because of a catalogue of missed chances and a speedy Newington tackle line that induced errors.
Joeys were camped in the visitors’ half for a while with winger Day punting the ball to effect there frequently. They earned penalties when Newington tested the patience of the referee too much—but declined to kick at goal three times when they could have. The ball was turned over the first time they declined, a lineout was lost close to the New line on the second, and a scrum was lost near the Newington goal posts on the third.
Newington had even launched some raids themselves with the wind in their faces. One was was from a searching run by flyhalf Kuenzle with an escort of chasing Joe boys; others were started by their big boppers up front.
New were stronger in the collisions, with or without the ball. The SJC players got to the tackle areas quickly enough but Newington could shift people better than they could. Prop Helu could scarcely be tackled at the first attempt, nor often the second. All this subtracted from the benefit that nature was providing to Joeys and time was running out.
Then Joeys decided to take a penalty shot with seven minutes left and Day slotted it to opening the scoring: 3-0. The cheering from the local crowd was ironic.
It was as though the game had been jump-started because Joeys passed lineout ball along the backline as on a dry day, and fullback McTaggart rounded near the posts to dot down shadowed by team mates.
A lead of 10-0 was modest in those favourable conditions though better than nothing, but hold on—Newington got to the other end and parked in the Joeys’ 22. New had received a yellow card earlier and now Joeys got one – and Helu scored from the tap kick.
It was their only real opportunity in the first half and they took it.
Half-time score: Joeys 10 – Newington 7.
Helu was in the action again after the interval when he broke from 30 metres out and back-handed a pass for his skipper, no. 8 Serhon, to skid over for a try. Then the roles were reversed when Serhon took the ball up with a shorter run and Helu was over.
Newington had the game by the throat, 21-10, with 22 minutes remaining. Unlike Joeys in the first half they were playing with the conditions, running straight—not against them, passing wide balls.
Helu made another long gain, added to by 13 Turner. Now in the Joeys 22, Newington barged towards their goal-line with constant intent and when someone grabbed a Helu leg it wasn’t enough and he was over, for his hat-trick.
It was turning into a rout at 28-10 with 13 minutes left but Joeys was the last to score when, for once, Newington was in disarray and McTaggart handled twice to score his second try.
Final score: Newington 28 – Joeys 17.
Newington played the conditions better, as expected, and exposed Joeys limited fast, expansive game—as most of their opponents have done this season.
New have won two in a row whereas Joeys have lost four out of five and could be wooden-spoon contenders this year.
3 points – Fullback Matthew McTaggart scored Joeys’ two tries taking both chances perfectly.
2 points – Winger Lachlan Day got Joeys into good positions with his boot in the first half.
1 point – Lock Jack Spooner had a rugged game and poached a few lineouts.
3 points – THP Opeti Helu had one of the most dominant running games in the tight I have seen for many a year.
2 points – No.8 Tom Serhon – the skipper had a non-stop performance and could sniff a try.
1 point – Flyhalf Bayley Kuenzle – coming back nicely from injury; ran and controlled the game well.
Newington 28 (O. Helu 3, T. Serhon tries; B. Kuenzle 4 cons) def. Joeys 17 (M. McTaggart 2 tries; W. Day pen, 2 cons)
Photos of Joeys v Newington by “Lee Grant”
Shore v Kings
by “Gary Owen III”
The final weekend of the first round had Shore hosting Kings. The weather Gods decided to join the fray this week and create a bit of havoc, with enough wind and rain lashing Northbridge to give Noah cause for concern.
The teams had a few changes. Dylan Pietsch moved to lock for Mac Williams, and hooker James Lynch slipped back to flanker. Shore was without Allen and scrummie Will Haskins, but welcomed back Luke Rixon and Max Sinclair.
Kings ran with a strong wind at their backs, and fortunately the rain decided to ease up for the main event. Fullback Luke Osborne sent the ball deep into Shore territory, with his booming punts, and the wind helped him also. This gave the Shore #15 Luke Rixon some open field to return the ball, and he looked dangerous whenever he did.
But the game was played out in the forwards. The King’s pack were “on song” and in particular, the tight five. The Shore forwards were not disgraced and in many facets of play were equal to the task. But at the set piece Kings excelled: two tight head scrums, and lineout steals set a platform for them.
The piggies loved the conditions with “pick and drive” being the go-to play for both teams; and although the slippery conditions meant ball security was paramount, there was a lot of turnover ball, regardless
After about eight minutes of play, most of which had been in Shore territory, Kings managed to recycle the ball into the left corner and big #4 Nick Brown crashed over the top of a Shore defender to open the scoring. After the conversion missed Kings led 5-0..
Shore began to get more ball thereafter and the rest of the half was fairly even with both teams failing to capitalise on their chances. Kings extended their lead to 8-0 with a late penalty goal to #9 Kyle Brown.
Shore’s promising LHP, Luke Edwards, was injured in the half and had to retire.
Half-time score: King’s 8 – Shore 0.
Shore had the wind behind them after the break but Kings scored first. They got into the Shore red zone from a Shore mistake and a penalty, and after multiple phases #9 Kyle Brown scooted over to score next to the uprights. The easy kick missed and Kings led 13-0.
Both teams had many chances as the game ebbed and flowed without more scoring—until the 62nd minute. Shore had momentum and attacked close to the Kings’ line; their forwards rolled on and when the ball popped out the side of a tackle #7 Charlie Joyce grabbed it and dived over to put Shore on the board. Kick successful and Shore were within six points, 7-13.
A Shore player fumbled the restart kick and an offside team mate picked up the ball. Kings slotted the penalty kick to end the scoring,
Full-time score: Kings 16 – Shore 7.
Kings will be happy with the win, but they were far from their best, except for their tight-five forwards who were their highlight. The back row missed the flair of Pietsch who had a quiet match in the second row; Osborne had a mixed game at the back but did enough to show why he is the focus of the Kings’ attack.
Shore will be disappointed with another close loss. They had chances in this game, as they did last week, but some poor decisions and game management choices, are hurting them at vital stages. Their scrum battled manfully against the bigger Kings’ pack and their backrow probably got a points decision over their counterparts.
Their backline defence was remarkable .
Kings – best were:
4 - Nick Brown was ideally suited to the conditions: he used his big frame for many charges and was rewarded with a try.
3 – Daniel Lombardi anchored the dominant front row and was busy both on and off the ball.
9 – Kyle Brown had a busy game behind a dominant pack, scored a try and kicked two goals
Shore – best were:
5 – Rory Suttor – Mr Perpetual Motion, never seems to give a bad performance.
10 – Max Sinclair controlled the game well with some nice hands and big kicking
12- Edward Gregory – Quality defence, topped the tackle count for the game.
Kings 16 (N.Brown, K.Brown tries; K.Brown 2 pens) def. Shore 7 (C.Joyce try; M.Sinclair con)
Photos of “Shore v Kings by “Not in straight”
Scots v Riverview
This match was always going to be won by the team that adapted best to the atrocious conditions.
And so it was.
Despite running into a gale, View dominated possession in the opening ten minutes. But they failed to convert pressure into points due to strong Scots’ defence and pin-point clearing kicks from Scots’ 10, Nick Shannon.
The first points came off the back of a Scots’ scrum where an inside ball from Shannon sent Tom Yassmin (14) through a gap to score just beside the uprights. Conversion successful. Scots up 7 – 0.
Scots’ fans didn’t have much time to celebrate though because their team knocked-on from the kick-off and were penalised for hands in the ruck. In a sign of how strong the wind was, View chose a scrum, rather than an otherwise straight-forward goal kick.
But it turned out a good decision because, after going blind, some deft footwork from Oliver Smeallie (14) and a well-timed inside pass sent Charlie Rorke (6) over for a try. Conversion missed. 7 – 5 to Scots.
View then knocked-on the next kick-off and, after one of their players grabbed the ball from an offside position, a penalty was awarded to Scots. From the ensuing line-out, Scots set up a drive that View attempted to pull down on three occasions. The ref ran out of patience and awarded a penalty try.
For rest of the half, Scots had a marginal wind-assisted advantage in position and possession. But it was View who had the only significant scoring opportunity. Rorke made a clean break and chipped ahead but was beaten to the ball by Ryan O’Beirne (Scots 12) who was tackled in-goal. Lost opportunity. Rorke would have been likely to score if he’d held the ball and pinned his ears back.
Half-time score: Scots 14 – 5 View.
For the next 35 minutes, 30 were spent in the Scots’ half and 25 in the Scots’ 22.
Not long after the restart, View were able to turn pressure into points when, after multiple phases of wet-weather footy, Rorke smashed over from close range to make it a double. Conversion successful. Scots 14 – 12 View.
With around 20 minutes left and View dominating possession, it was only a matter of when (not if) View would score and take the lead. And that they would have, if only they had continued to play the conditions. Instead, they threw too many 50-50 passes with lots either dropped or falling between, behind, or in front of the intended receiver.
View mounted wave after wave of attack, but they just couldn’t get there in the end. Scots’ defence – both in terms of structure and intensity – was outstanding. They tackled themselves to a standstill.
Full-time: Scots 14 – 12 View
Video highlights courtesy of “sidesteppa” thank you.
View didn’t play their best game and Scots probably did.
View will discuss their tactics and be more adaptable next time it’s wet. They will learn from this and go in to Round 2 in an even stronger position. They would have to be favourites from here, despite this Round 5 set-back.
Scots just seem to be getting better each week and should be very proud of their performance. The win puts them equal first with View and Kings. And with three of their five remaining matches at home, they have every reason to believe they are in with a shot.
3 points – Nick Shannon #10 – Picked the right time to pass and kick. Fired off many crucial clearance kicks with precision.
2 points – Archer Gavin #13 – Awesome in defence and kept opposite centres quiet.
1 point – Hugh Green # 7 – Fearless and effective in the tackle and on the ball.
3 points – Charlie Rorke #6 – View’s chief metre-eater and two-try scorer.
2 points – Michael Fenn #8 – Made plenty of yards too. Just a shame for View that there weren’t more runners feeding off him.
1 point – Oliver Smeallie # 14 – A stand-out in a game for forwards.
Scots 14 (T. Yassmin try, penalty try, Shannon 2 cons) def. Riverview 12 (C. Rorke 2 tries, T. Lenehan con)
Third XV competition
Apart from a rude intervention by Centennial Parklands, the 3rd XV teams seemed largely unfazed by the punishing conditions.
Grammar vs Newington
Grammar adapted well to the unfavourable conditions at Weigall with a conservative, yet clinical performance through the middle. Showing great heart in the wet, Grammar’s excellent defence choked Newington of scoring opportunities, with the team responding particularly well to Newington’s kicking strategy. The class of Grammar players Josh Smith (#6) and Alec Sheldon (#12) was undeniably evident, each scoring two tries against a team that had previously not conceded any for the season. Sheldon exhibited his great kicking expertise, converting all four tries despite the slush.
Final Score: Grammar 28 – Newington 0
There is concern for Grammar’s #6 Smith, who left the field early for scans on his ankle. This is unwelcome news, especially with a crucial encounter against Joeys coming up in 2 weeks.
TAS v. Riverview
The Armidale boys responded well to their unwelcome arrival in Sydney with a convincing victory over a winless View side. With tries to centres Samuel Jackson-Bolton and Andrew Knight, TAS were unperturbed by a late View revival, displaying great composure to cement their position at the top of the table.
Final Score: Armidale 17 – Riverview 10
Shore v. Joeys
Shore showed some great spirit after their tough loss against Grammar, limiting a rampaging Joeys side to three tries at Northbridge.
Final Score: Joeys 17- Shore 3
High v. Kings
Despite promising to be a cracker of a game, Centennial Parklands spoiled the party by closing McKay Fields in order to salvage its few remaining patches of turf .