The first weekend of the second round of matches promised to produce the best contests of the GPS season.
Riverview versus Joeys is a blockbuster event any year; Kings and Shore may be at the bottom of the ladder but wins are all the more precious to them.
But the big game of the round game was at Stanmore. Newington was hosting Scots and hoping to keep their unbeaten record intact, whereas Scots, who lost to them in May, could draw level with them on the ladder should they beat the competition leaders on their home patch.
Newington v Scots
Stanmore was brimming with the black and white as Newington hosted Scots in their “return” match for 2015.
The Lions of Scots were stylishly piped into the arena, and the Newington Wyvern lads formed up the longest tunnel since the M5 East was completed. A tremendous scene for schoolboy Rugby!
Newington ran into a bitingly cool Sou’Easter in the first half, but dominated the early possession stakes. New’s ball runners hit hard into a Scots defensive line right up for the challenge.
The Scots mid-field D was so effective that with a quarter of the game gone, New changed tack and kicked ahead and deep into Scots territory for gains instead. Quite a mark of respect shown for the quality of the defence on display.
Lineouts were hugely contested. The wind wreaked havoc on any attempted long straight throws with the lightness of Gilbert, and short throw-ins were the order of the day. More than once New set up rolling mauls from short lineout throws, only to be foiled by excellent defence.
There were tremendous one-on-ones being fought out across the park – Jake Prindiville, half a foot shorter, made some memorable tackles on Tyrone Taukamu as Tyrone motored down the Hill touchline in front of the New faithful; Cam Murray’s trademark mid-field bursts shut down by Dan England; and the same for Simon Kennewell, who got no quarter from James Hawkins.
And both sets of piggies ground each other nearly to a standstill.
Just before the halftime and Bailey Simonsson (14) latched onto a backline ball with space to move out wide on the left, finally. An in-and-away on his opposite Jarrod Cullen, and a solo passage to the corner, levelled it up 5-all.
And then one to break Scots hearts. On the beat of halftime, the ball moved right, Cam Murray made a powerful run, and fed the ball out to the three-quarters. The ball may have been touched forward by Kennewell, but it landed in Tyrone Taukamo’s big mitts unsanctioned by the officials. Tyrone stepped off his right, jagged inside left, wrong-footing Scots’ custodian Nic Shannon, and New had the lead at oranges.
Half-time score: Newington 10 – Scots 5
Newington continued their attacks into the Scots’ corners, but now they kicked with the aid of the breeze.
From a short throw line out to a rolling maul, New’s big Charlie Mannix (4) plonked down a 5-pointer, converted by 10, Bayley Kuenzle, and the home team was out to a score of 17-5.
The celebratory rendition of “Twist and Shout” by the New boys was joyous.
Scots’ task became no easier at the 10 minute mark when their chief scrounger, Charlie Smith (7), got yellowed.
But the Lions lads didn’t cave. They worked the ball up to the other end and launched raid after raid on the New line, and now they were the ones getting the “held up over the line” calls against them. England, Todd and Hawkins were all refused meat.
When Smith returned to the field for Scots, Theo Strang (9) made a cameo dart down the left, looked almost as to pass the ball to himself, and ran it in to cut the margin. Scots boys on the Hill went nuts. England kicked a more-than-timely conversion, and the game was on with a soreline at Newington 17 – Scots 12.
Both forward packs were nullifying each other, and Scots made headway through their classy backline. Jarrod Cullen squared his personal ledger with his opposite number, going in down the right to tie it up at 17-apiece. England’s difficult conversion blew wide.
A frantic final couple of minutes and this epic battle was done, with the inevitable bewilderment about “what just happened?” and “what could’ve been?” that comes with any final whistle finishing a drawn game.
Full-time score: Newington 17 -Scots 17
Video of Newington v Scots – courtesy of “sidesteppa”
Best for their teams
Newington: Charlie Mannix (4), Tom Serhorn (6), Bayley Kuenzle (10)
Scots: Nick Zylstra (3), Max Girdler (6), Dan England (12) and James Hawkins (13).
In a draw like the one we saw yesterday, all 30 players and subs deserve enormous credit.
They played as hard as you’d ever see at this level, but as fair too. There was such signs of mutual respect at match end (and no doubt a fair bit of pain and exhaustion to boot!) that whichever side you were supporting, it was truly gladdening of the heart stuff.
Both sides, for sure, had their chances to win, but the football Gods probably made the right call in arranging that neither side should lose.
Newington 17 (Simmonson, Taukamo, Mannix tries; Kuenzle con) drew with Scots 17 (McCauley, Strang, Cullen tries; England con)
2nd XV: Newington 26 – Scots 5
16A: Scots 34 – Newington 34-0
Click on Page 2 below for a report on Riverview v Joeys by “Tahspark”