The city had dried out during the week and the weather was benign for Round 4.
Handling the ball and playing expansively was easier than last weekend as Newington looked to keep their unbeaten GPS record intact at Stanmore, and Joeys sought to get back on the bike at North Parramatta.
But the big game was at Bellevue Hill where Scots were hosting Riverview.
Scots v Riverview
On a sunny and still afternoon at Bellevue Hill, a surprisingly smallish crowd was entertained by a free-flowing match featuring ten tries and a stack of big hits.
Scots kicked off running with the scoreboard to their left. Ryan McCauley (Scots 5) sailed high above the pack (aided by his 200+cm frame) to steal View’s first possession opportunity. The ball was spun left, then right. Dylan Woods (Scots 2) drew two defenders and popped a pass inside to Harry Todd (1) who scored the first try of the match with only a minute on the clock. Dan England (12) missed the kick.
Two penalty goals to Jack McGregor (View 10) punctuated a first quarter dominated by Scots. Max Girdler (6) and Charlie Smith (7) made easy yards up the middle, but dropped and forward passes close to the line kept the scoreboard quiet.
Eventually the pressure turned to points when Strath Yeo (Scots 14) finished off some sharp lead-up work involving most players. Ryan McCauley added the two points for Scots to lead 12-6.
With 18 minutes remaining in the half Jarrod Cullen (Scots 15) made a clean break down the right flank, drew the last line of defence and sent the ball inside to Dylan McLachlan (10) who crossed for Scots’ third try. The McCauley conversion was successful and Scots lead 19-6.
Two minutes later Max Girdler (Scots 6) made a big break, drew in defenders and passed to Charlie Smith (7) who outpaced View’s speedsters to score. Another monstrous McCauley conversion suggested he could probably nail them from 50+ metres.
With 15 minutes left in the half and Scots leading 26-6, the momentum started to swing slightly. View had more possession and McGregor set up a well-deserved try for Will Terry (13). The conversion missed but View’s spirits had lifted and some aggressive tackles halted the Scots metre-eaters in the final ten minutes of the half. When the whistle blew, it was clear that a tighter contest loomed in the second stanza.
Half time score: Scots 26 – View 11
After a quiet first five minutes, Theo Strang (Scots 9) ran blind off a scrum win on the View 22. With two to beat, he grubbered ahead and Charlie Smith (7) regathered to score; but the conversion was missed.
Five minutes later, Scots were awarded a penalty in the View 22. Theo Strang (9) caught the View defence napping with a quick tap and scored Scots sixth try. Conversion missed. Scots now up 36-11.
Theo Strang (Scots 9) was then given a ten minute rest for slapping down a View pass. With Scots down a man, View capitalised quickly. A strong run down the right flank by View 16 (replacement) was cut off just short of the Scots goal line. The ball was recycled and shifted left to find Tom O’Reilly (11) who scored in the corner. There were no extras and Scots lead 36-16, but the momentum had swung again.
View had more possession in the remainder of the match. Jake Pirina (View 12) ran strongly and second rowers Jack Todhunter and Michael Fenn seemed to be everywhere.
With 2 minutes remaining, another View raid saw Tom O’Reilly cross for his second try in the left hand corner and again the conversion was missed. Scots led 36-21.
Then, in injury time, View marched the ball through a couple of phases to finish the game with a try to Chris Scott (View 8). No prizes for guessing the fate of the conversion.
Final score: Scots 36 – View 26
Scots: Were better than the scoreline suggested. All played strongly. The scrum seemed more powerful with the addition of Nick Zylstra (3) and the new (starting) backline combination appeared their best yet.
Riverview: Confirmed they will be a threat to all teams in the comp. The scrum performed better than the line-out. They defended the pick and drive well, but got confused on occasions in more open play when the ball was sent back inside.
Max Girdler – 3 points. A wrecking ball with a nice step too.
Charlie Smith – 2 points. Scored twice, forced many turnovers and slotted admirably into 9 and 10 at times when down to 14 players
Theo Strang – 1 point. Controlled the game for lengthy periods.
Jack McGregor – 3 points. So many classy touches. Linked well with his centres.
Will Terry – 2 points. Several strong runs. Nice support and hole running. Rewarded with first-half try.
Chris Scott – 1 point. Ran hard. Hit hard in defence. Maintained intensity for full 70.
Scots 36 (C.Smith 2, H. Todd, S. Yeo, D. McLachlan, T. Strang tries; R. McCauley 3 cons.) bt. Riverview 26 (T. O’Reilly 2, W. Terry, C. Scott tries; J. McGregor 2 pens.)
Click on Page 2 for a report on Kings v Joeys by “Lee Grant”