The 2012 GPS competition in NSW will start next weekend and this season promises to be the closest run thing for years. Anybody who reckons they can pick the winner before Rd. 1 is kidding themselves, and I will be reading the tea leaves when making my tips.
There are several changes for 2012.
Because the athletic programme schedule was altered, rugby trials were played in term 2 and the competition was deferred to term 3.
Also, the AAGPS came up with an interesting plan to accommodate some of the weaker rugby schools in the association:
• The 3rd XV division will become an official competition and the Sydney Boys High 1st XV will compete in that.
• The Armidale School 1st XV will compete in the 2nd XV competition.
• After not winning a game last year the Sydney Grammar School 1st XV will play in the 1st XV competition after all, but their 2nd XV will play in the (non-official) 4th XV comp.
• The other 6 AAGPS schools will play in all three official competitions and all the unofficial ones.
It probably won’t be a perfect solution, but it’s worth a try, and the way they have done it, all 9 AAGPS schools have a chance to win an official trophy.
So who is going to win the comp? The trials should have been a good form guide but with players injured, or rested, or rusty, the winning margins often small, the teams being changed from trial to trial, the games affected by heavy grounds, and team A beating team B who beat team C who beat team A – you know what I mean – you wouldn’t want to put too much of your hard-earned on the outcome.
Has a good chance.
6. Dempsey can slip tackles like Houdini on his day, 8. Whiteley is one of the most skilful forwards in the country and 4. Rorke is the foremost power runner in Oz. All are in the Oz Schools starting team and there’s a couple handy centres who played for Combined States as well.
But the rest of the team? They are not at that level, and it showed in the trials when their main 3 rivals beat them; not by much mind, but beat them. They have a big pack but they have to do more.
However, Riverview has the draw going for them: they have home games late in the season against two of their top rated opponents Newington and Kings. To make that worthwhile though they have beat Joeys, the 3rd rated opponent, in the opening round.
Have skilful, blue heeler forwards and one of the best scrums in the comp with 1. Robertson, 2 Carolan and 3. Sandell in the front row. Their lineout improved in the last trial with the promotion of 4. Bartlett and the return from injury of 5. Schwager. 7. Murphy is a fine on-baller, 6/8. Donahue a tough ball runner and tackler, and Goldie, who seems to play anywhere, a pain in the bum to all opponents.
Pick and go is one of their strengths, but if they turn over the ball with players bunched they are often caught short out wide with a counter attack. They have also been found wanting on goal line defence.
Their backs have improved and ended the trials better balanced than at the start. The incisive 12. Pay, is now elevated to team with line breaker 13. Barclay, and 9. Curtin is now paired with old partner 10. Deegan. However apart from 11. Wilde, they lack top end speed in the back 3 to convert breaks and to put out fires.
Also, their long kicking from hand is not brilliant; so on occasion they play too much rugby in the wrong real estate. This did not serve then well against Kings when two tries were scored for that reason.
Joeys finished the trials well but on the way they lost close games to Newington and Kings when they didn’t take their chances. They have to play these powerful teams away; so the opening game at home against Riverview is a must win.
Deserves to be a favourite in 2012 although it is a young team
It has more rep players this year for NSW and Oz Schools than any other school in the state, mind you, they will recall their great representative year in 2010 when that didn’t mean beans.
There is quality all through it’s back line, and a class back row. With 13. Foketi and 16 year old 14. Jones they have two brilliant outside backs who can pounce on any chance, and 10. Tulloch, still in Yr. 11, is an up and coming player who plays beyond his years.
Their tight five forwards are not so stellar but they have good engines and can get around the park.
They have a good all round game and gave Joeys a lesson in how to play in wet conditions.
Its only blip in the trials was against Newington when they couldn’t get enough possession, but in the comp they get to play them at home, as they do Joeys..
As usual, has a big physical team. They can bash players whichever team has the ball. They need better discipline and lack some of the skill that their most serious opponents have, but their front row is excellent.
Their main strength is in their midfield with 12. Moreoa and 13. Milne and if they can get quick ball they are like a couple of battleships on the loose.
Their trial form was patchy and included a loss to Scots and a draw with Kinross, but who knows if there were not good reasons for those results.
We won’t be able to assess Newington properly until their Rd. 2 result away against Kings. Watch this space on that and their Rd. 7 game, away, against View. Their season will depend upon how they can impose their physical presence on opponents and enable their midfielders to do their thing.
Has three of the finest backs in the country: 10. Horwitz, 12. Stewart and 15. Kellaway, who are all in the Oz Schools Ones team. The first two are in for the 2nd year and one expects that Kellaway will make the same claim next year.
Their trial highlight was beating Newington narrowly, but they were thrashed by Kings in the last trial.
They have deficiencies in other areas and should finish below the top four teams.
Does not have many star players apart from 9. Pulver of Oz Schools but they beat Scots and gave Newington a fright. They are are feisty team who plays above its weight and nobody will be surprised if they smack Scots again, nor if they give one of the fancied four a fright, or worse.
May be better off playing in the 2nd XV competition but they are trying the 1st XV division one more time. Their aim will be to beat Shore or Scots. Their 2nd XV should do well in the 4th XV comp.
Struggled in the 2nd XV comp last year and will be better suited to the 3rd XV division.
Should make a good fist of competing in the 2nd XV competition.
My fearless picks for the 1st XV competition: