Marist College made an emphatic statement on behalf of ACT Schools by defeating Hills Sports High School in the Quarter-Final of the Waratah Shield yesterday in Canberra.
by Leicester Tiger
ACT schools were excluded from the competition in 2005 but NSW Rugby reinstated them this year. St. Edmunds College, who has won the Shield more often than any other school, did not participate because of commitments to play in NZ during the season, but five other schools, including Marist, represented the ACT.
Marist had thrashed Knox College 48-0 in their last Shield game but the Marist crowd in their new stand was nervous since the visiting Hills team had been finalists last year and were tied in the final against St. Augustines until just before the final bell.
Marist started well getting quickly to the breakdown and keeping the ball in the attacking half for the first 10 minutes. This culminated in the ball being held up over the goal line, but a try was scored in the 11th minute by winger C. Simpson after the scrum reset. It was converted by flyhalf, J. Bodman.
Hills lock Taylor put on a big hit after the restart, allowing Hills to get possession and they kept it for the next 10 minutes in the Marist half, but could not convert this advantage into points. The middle part of the first half saw a number of handling errors and a bit of an arm wrestle in the middle of the field.
Hills racked up several team infringements and at the 27th minute the referee lost patience and gave a yellow card to a Hills winger. A man down, Hills looked vulnerable immediately as the ball was sent from one side to the other, and Marist outside centre, D. McLaughlin, scored in the 28th minute. The try was converted again by Bodman.
Hills captain and number eight, Mafi, played under an injury cloud and had to be replaced in the 32nd minute.
The half time score was Marist 14, Hills 0.
After the break Marist continued on where they left off and winger Simpson scored his 2nd try after 3 minutes but the conversion missed.
Hills got a breakaway but, not for the first time, lost the ball, and Marist recovered it near their goal line. Later Marist forced a turnover in their own half through inside centre, L. McCreath, and the ball was dispatched to touch 15m out from from the Hills goal line. Great kick. The lineout was sloppy; Marist collected the loose ball and McCreath scored in the 11th minute to make the score 26-0.
Hills lost a second player in the 13th minute for a late shoulder charge on Bodman, but managed to score an unconverted try whilst a man down. Then Marist hit straight back with a penalty to make the gap 22 points to kill off the slight chance of a Hills comeback.
It was disappointing to see the shoulder charge incident, something that was evident from Hills players during the NSW trials. This adds fuel to the fire regarding the stereotype league players in Western Sydney Schools, but to be fair, shoulder charging is allowed in the other code and maybe old habits die hard.
Other than that the game was played in good spirit.
Final Score – Marist 29 defeated Hills 7
Standout players for Marist were 9. J. Powell, 10., J. Bodman, 15. M. O’Neil (2nd Half) and 4., C. Smith. The whole team was well drilled and held their defensive positions. Their game plan was to run the bigger Hills pack around by moving the ball from side to side. They were well structured and kicked to space and for touch well.
Unusually for Hills, the backline misfired across the board. 2., Faingaa, 6. George and 4. Taylor did the majority of the grunt work. Taylor was digging in at practically every breakdown, and Faingaa ran solidly in his first game back from a knee injury.
Marist deserved their win in scoring four tries to one, but Hills did themselves no favours with the yellow cards.
In the Semi-Final Marist will most likely play the winner between the big improvers Oakhill College (Castle Hill) and Kinross Wolaroi College (Orange), next Saturday.
Report thanks to Leicester Tiger in Canberra.