NSW I was playing NSW II in the final for the first time since 2002 and with the state rivalry taken out of the equation the emphasis was in the pride of two undefeated teams and the individual contests for Australian honours.
Day 4 – Sunny but chilly with wind at 8 knots from NW.
The players from both teams had the misconception that they were playing for final Australian selection and that made for a somewhat dour and unimaginative game.
What happened was that the head to head clashes never really eventuated and NSW I’s determination to win by trying for three points off every available penalty opportunity did not help.
Needless to say the four amigos (Kellaway, Jones, Moeroa, Milne) in the NSW I’s dominated the game. 15. Andrew Kellaway opened the scoring after six minutes with a neat unders pass from 10. Andrew Deegan, to score next to the posts, and one of the other amigos, 14. Harry Jones converted.
After another five minutes NSW I were in again with Jones scoring a pie but failed to convert it. Score 12-0 to NSW I.
After this opening period NSW II started to make themselves felt. Even though their flanker, 7. Brandon Paenga-Amosa, was sin-binned for repeated on the ball infringements it did not deter them from continuing to compete aggressively at the breakdown.
NSW II fullback, Nic Clancy, latched onto the big No8 to save a certain try over the line and force a five-metre defensive scrum. NSW II continued to thwart their more fancied opponents and gave nearly as much as they received. Their only blemish was not getting points when within five metres of NSW I’s goal line.
Half time score 12-0 to NSW I.
After the break the team running uphill and into the breeze seemed to have more attacking chances (or performing to the crowd who were camped that end). NSW II ran towards the scoreboard in the second half and tried valiantly several times to get through the four amigos’ defence, especially the IIs youngest lad on the pitch, 13. Henry Hutchinson, who never gave up all day.
The annoyance of NSW I because of NSW II’s effectivenes earned a yellow card for their big 5. Joshua Anderson, for repeated infringements. After this NSW I interchanged their halves with reserve scrummie 21. Michael Kennedy and soon afterwards 22. Corey Tulloch, coming on. After these changes NSW II continued to apply the pressure by refusing three penalty kicks for goal and elected for the lineout instead!
NSW II was again on the attack and won a delightfully, quick tight-head scrum that caught 21. Kennedy napping which allowed his opposite, Joey Lussick, to dive on the ball to score. The conversion was successful and NSW II now trailed by only four points.
NSW II came right back and looked to again pressure for more points when 14. Jones committed the cardinal fullback sin for NSW I and allowed the ball to bounce – but only to regather it, avoid several attackers and clear with his left foot, much to the relief of his team.
NSW I then converted field possession into points when Jones kicked a penalty goal to take the score to 15-7.
Young 13. Henry Hutchinson and 15. Nic Clancy were trying valiantly to defend excellent moves by the big outside backs of NSW I’s and on several occasions these two youngsters (16 & 17 respectively) showed excellent defensive skills. But you cannot defend all day, and 7. Jack McCalman (starting as no.8) for NSW I scored near the corner post. Conversion unsuccessful.
NSW II’s responded with a lovely drifting backline attack started with 10. Jack Clancy, cutting out his 12. Devan Stolz,once again, to finally put reserve back 23. Elliott Jennings over for a try.
Final score — NSW I 20 defeated NSW II 12
Photos by Lee Grant
See Page 2 for reports of other games on finals day.