The AAGPS re-jigged the GPS Rugby competition this year. The 3rd XV competition was made an official tournament and the Sydney Boys High School 1st XV participated in that. The Armidale School 1sts entered the 2nd XV tournament. Sydney Grammar 1sts stayed in the 1st XV comp but their 2nds played in the 4th XV division.
The usual ups and downs prevailed in the Term II trials. The most remarkable feature was the poor form of Scots who were thrashed by St. Augustines (ISA) and Kings. The representative season started when Term II ended.
NSW trials and Oz Schools tournament
GPS Is and IIs won their trial matches against CAS and CHS. They had a strong year: 9 GPS players were selected in each of the NSW starting XVs, and 5 others were picked in the Combined States run on team. After the national tournament 7 NSW GPS players started in the “test match” for Oz Schools against Tongan Schools and 3 more were on the bench.
The tournament started after a final week of trials at the beginning of Term III.
Shore 19 – Kings 15 - The big surprise of the round was the victory of Shore, a team of battlers who had played together for years, over Kings, who were chock full of rep players. Shore were better drilled and bounced back after Kings had taken the lead with 10 minutes to go.
Joeys 29 – Riverview 17 – Joeys’ forwards enabled their improving back line to express themselves. Bad discipline in slowing down Joeys’ incursions was costly for View. They played their best positive rugby chasing the game when it was lost.
Grammar 0 – Newington 52 – Grammar could not contain Newington’s huge pack in the scrums other physical contests. The Newington rep midfield was hard to contain but Grammar forced some errors to keep the score to what it was.
Standings: [Unofficial. To ignore byes, by listing table points lost] Newington 0, Joeys 0, Shore 0, Scots 0, Kings 2, Riverview 2, Grammar 2.
Kings 26 – Newington 37 – Both backlines played some brilliant rugby but the size and technique of the Newington forwards enabled theirs to do more of it. New put the hammer down in the 3rd quarter and although Kings kept them scoreless in the last 15 minutes, too much damage had been done.
Riverview 68 – Grammar 0 – Grammar were outmatched again in size, ability and rugby nous.
Scots 25 – Joeys 10 – After their bye week Scots belied their ordinary trial form and announced there was a new gun in town with an emphatic win. Joeys’ backs lacked penetration against strong defence, whereas the Scots’ backs took most of their chances.
Standings: [Points lost] Newington 0, Scots 0, Shore 0, Kings 2, Riverview 2, Joeys 2, Kings 4, Grammar 4.
Newington 29 – Joeys 13 – New played with and against the strong wind better than Joeys did, and their big boppers and better kicking game nullified Joeys’ 13-0 lead in the 1st quarter. New put Joeys under pressure with the wind after oranges but were just 2 points ahead with 10 minutes to go when they scored 2 tries from Joeys’ set piece errors.
Riverview 24 – Scots 29 – Both teams spun the ball in the windy conditions but Scots, did it better with their star backs. View made up for this up front but lost some crucial lineouts. The game ended with View pounding the Scots’ goal line but the visitors held on.
Grammar 7 – Shore 36 – Shore were too good but Grammar improved a lot and played their best game of the season so far.
Standings: [Points lost] Newington 0, Scots 0, Shore 0, Joeys 4, Riverview 4, Kings 4, Grammar 6.
Shore 25 – Riverview 19 – Shore beat yet another team that boasted more rep players. The Northbridge scrappers kept View at bay for long periods and put on a heroic stand at the end of the match to remain undefeated.
Scots 15 – Newington 31 – New were ahead 12-0 early but Scots bounced back. New won the game by resisting strong pressure from Scots just before half-time then forcing Scots mistakes after the break and scoring two sharp tries. The New forwards wore the Scots pack down in several areas and were worthy winners.
Kings 100 – Grammar 0
Standings: [Points lost] Newington 0, Shore 0, Scots 2, Joeys 4, Kings 4, Riverview 6, Grammar 8.
Riverview 7 – Kings 20 - After an even but scrappy 1st half, Kings scored 17-0 in the 2nd as they hit their straps. They had most of the possession after oranges and when View got some they spilt the ball too often.
Shore 22 – Scots 36 – Scots shocked the home crowd back to cruel reality leading 24-8 lead at the break. Scots suffered a 0-10 penalty count and 2 cards against them in the 2nd half but held on easily.
Joeys 97 – Grammar 0
Standings: [Points lost] Newington 0, Scots 2, Shore 2, Joeys 4, Kings 4, Riverview 8, Grammar 10.
Grammar 5 – Scots 114
Kings 8 – Joeys 29 - After a poor 1st half from both teams Joeys dominated up front in the 2nd which allowed their backs to express themselves. Kings played their least impressive rugby of the year after oranges whereas Joeys were at their best and deserved their 5 tries to 1 victory.
Newington 27 – Shore 24 - RWC referee Nigel Owens had the whistle for the best game of the season. Spectators around the grounds were agog when the news came through that the Shore battlers were ahead 14-10 at oranges. With 5 minutes to go and the score tied, Lussick held his nerve and slotted a penalty in windy conditions to give Newington a 3 point lead. On the bell Shore charged at the line but were held up; so Newington remained unbeaten.
Standings: [Points lost] Newington 0, Scots 2, Shore 4, Joeys 4, Kings 6, Riverview 8, Grammar 12.
High 17 – Grammar 31 (approximately) - Non-competition. This match didn’t count for points but both sets of boys enjoyed showing off their skills playing in a competitive match against their peers.
Joeys 24 – Shore 14 – These teams were playing for 3rd spot (or possibly equal 2nd) but they performed like they were playing in a Grand Final. Joeys took their opportunities better than Shore, who lacked a bit of zing in the backs to do the same.
Kings 19 – Scots 71 – Scots were merciless and thrashed Kings at their home ground. Their pack provided go forward ball and their Oz Schools star backs and their mates carved up with a breathtaking display of attacking rugby, repeatedly starting deep and going wide. Scots had a chance to tie the competition: if only View could beat Newington !!
Riverview 29 – Newington 36 – Newington were out of sorts in the first half which was tied up after some high scoring. After oranges they scored a trademark brace of tries, then coasted to the final whistle to win the competition.
Standings: [Points lost] Newington 0, Scots 2, Joeys 4, Shore 6, Kings 8, Riverview 10, Grammar 12.
All sides beat the teams below them in the final standings, and lost to the teams above them.
Well done to Newington, who always seemed to find a way to win, especially in the close games of the last two weeks of the season. Scots suffered their only loss to Newington and were worthy runners up. Congratulations also to Joeys for finishing third after losing two of their first three games, and for winning the 2nd XV and 3rd XV competitions.