Round 1 of the NSW GPS started on Saturday—all the trials and previews were over and on a smoky day in Sydney it was time for the real stuff.
Joeys v Riverview
by “Armchair Selector”
The traditional rugby battle of the Catholics, Marist brothers v Jesuits, continued at Hunters Hill in the opening round of the 2016 NSW GPS competition.
A positive start by Joeys saw them decline three penalty shots at goal in the first three minutes.
Whilst Joeys benefited from early possession, it was an outstanding try-saving tackle by Joeys #6 Feltis that denied the Riverview backline the first genuine crack at crossing the line.
To add salt into the wound,Joeys scored three minutes later. A clearing kick was fielded by Joeys # 15 McTaggart who ran down the right flank and back-handed a pass in traffic to #13 Jaffer-Williams who dished the ball inside to #12 Reilly who crossed the line wide out. Wow – Joeys 5-0.
View had chances and #8 Fenn was causing concern for Joeys’ tacklers, but they dropped the ball in likely positions. Both backlines chanced their arm but the early expansive play reverted to taking opportunities to score points when they presented.
A Joey’s infringement had Riverview open their account with a penalty goal to #10 Lenehan. Joeys 5 – View 3.
Joeys were having trouble getting out of their half so #11 Day returned the favour not long after with a monster penalty kick from half way. He had enough on it that anything from his 10-metre line would be within kickable distance. Joeys 8-View 3 with about six minutes left in the half.
On the half time hooter, Joeys # 10 Wilkinson gave a cut-out ball from the scrum to McTaggart running full-pelt 60 metres out. Near half-way he passed outside to Day, who drew the last defender and passed the ball back for McTaggart to round near the posts to score. Day converted.
Half-time score : Joeys 15 – Riverview 3,
The score was flattering to Joeys. Riverview’s forward pack began to dominate the Joeys scrum, however dropped ball cost them dearly. Part of that was caused by the relentless pressure on Riverview #9 Grant at the ruck but some wasted opportunities were unforced.
Seven minutes into the second half Grant got his own back when he sniped past lazy pillars at the ruck and passed to #10 Lenehan, who saw nothing but grass in front of him. He scored under the crossbar and Riverview was back in the game: Joeys15 – 10.
Apart from that Riverview could not get out of their own half very often in the third quarter of the game as Joeys were kicking the ball into their territory,
Joeys playmaker #13 Jaffer-Williams broke through the Riverview defensive 22 out from his own line running the length of the field to offload to #14 Tse who knocked-on under pressure from the committed Riverview defence. This was one of several ‘ thrusts that went astray.
#8 Fenn was the pick of the Riverview forwards both in defence and attack. In the first half his runs were thwarted by handling errors. Not so in the second half: with nine minutes left on the clock, he took the ball up after a lineout near the Joeys 22 and after three phases #6 Rorke saw a gap that was too wide in the defensive line.
After a fend and some high-stepping out of tackles he scored between the sticks and Riverview was in the lead for the first time in the afternoon. Riverview 17-15.
Joeys threw everything at Riverview, and with two minutes to go #15 McTaggart backed himself and headed for the corner, having broken through the Riverview defensive line 40 metres out. But covering defence stopped him stepping inside and a flick pass back infield at the last gasp failed with nobody in support.
Final score Riverview 17 Joeys 15.
The players and teams
Riverview’s forwards were the difference. Pick of the forwards #8 Fenn had a whale of a game ably supported by #6 Charlie Rorke.
Best of the backs for Riverviewwas #10 Thomas Lenehan who kicked and organised well.
Joeys, #11 Lachlan Day had a strong game with the boot. His open field kicking often kept Riverview in their own half. Although the Joeys’ backs could not create tries in the second half, #13 Jaffer-Williams and #15 McTaggart were the best of a talented back line.
The Joeys forwards were out-scrummaged. Best forward was #6 Joseph Feltis. He contained the Riverview wrecking balls early and worked tirelessly at the contest. #8 Miti Tuinakauvadra hit the line hard and was dangerous when he broke the line, but Fenn and Rorke provided the steel in defence that shut these opportunities down.
Well done to Riverview, whilst they only led once during the game, they led when it counted.
Only spoiler for the day was a pitch invasion by the View students and Old Boys after full time. Whilst they were no doubt excited by the result on the field, it could have turned ugly and caused injury.
Many thanks to Mr. James Scholtens and his crew for a fine performance by the officials.
Riverview 17 (T. Lenehan, C. Rorke tries; Lenehan 2 cons, pen) def. Joeys 15 (T. Reilly, M. McTaggart tries; L. Day con. Pen.)
2nd XV — Riverview 29 – Joeys 24. [A hat-trick to 16-year-old Angus Bell who must be pressing for Riverview First XV selection.]
3rd XV (trial) — Joeys 29 – Grammar 24
16As — Joeys 36 – Riverview 0
Across all grades 22 wins to Joeys, 2 draws and 4 wins to Riverview
Kings v Newington
by “Black & White”
Newington began playing with authority and purpose at Stanmore. Although only marginally superior in the first half, their ability to find gaps and use possession made them the better side before the break.
The home team took an early 7-0 lead with Simonsson going over after some good lead-up. However Kings drew level when Orpen made a clean break from a well-worked set piece for Duckworth to score. Then they took the lead 10-7 with a penalty goal after a brief foray into Newington’s half.
Newington responded quickly when their Lawson stepped two defenders after a skilful backline movement from recycled maul ball. He scored under the posts for Newington to lead Kings by 14-10 after the conversion.
Newington became camped in the Kings’ half for long periods and may have been over-confident when awarded a penalty in front of the posts. Rather than take the three points on offer they kicked for the corner. They drove a maul from the lineout, but Kings’ defended the pressure well and defused it just in time to deny the try.
Kings’ were more patient and workman-like and this style of play enabled several forward drives into the Newington half and earned them their second penalty goal. They were within one point of the home team now: 13-14.
The game was becoming an arm-wrestle of different styles—Newington displaying more ability in loose play, while Kings were more conservative playing the game in the forwards.
Half-time score: Newington 14 – Kings 13.
Newington had a brief period of territorial dominance early in the half, but couldn’t to turn possession in the right real estate into points. They made initial breaks, but lacked the support play to take it further. Also Kings’ defence was coming up quickly on Newington’s attack.
A penalty goal to Kings’ allowed them to retake the lead 16-14.
Later they found touch from another penalty which enabled them to drive the ball from a maul. From a resulting scrum Kings scored their second try, which was converted.
Although the score was just 23-14 to Kings this was the subconscious turning point in the game. The bubble had burst for Newington, although they fought back with a classy backline try to get the score closer at 23-19.
This was most evident in the best try of the day, when the Kings’ fullback Osborne got outside his man and for all his considerable height had a deceptive turn of speed to take it to the line 35 metres later to score. Kings led by 28-19 now and kept the pressure on. From a maul no. 8 Pietsch had some work to do but he went over for Kings’ fourth try.
The conversion made the score: Kings 35 – Newington 19.
But Newington hadn’t given up: just as things were falling apart they scored after an individual break in Kings territory and reduced the deficit to just nine points again after the conversion: Kings 35 – 26.
Hope was short-lived though and Pietsch scored the final try after receiving the ball 30 metres out and beating pedestrian defence to score out wide. Once again, to their credit, Newington hit back when their backs combined well to score a try and convert it from near the posts.
But it was too late.
Final score: Kings 40 – Newington 33.
The teams and players
Newington will be better when Knunzel returns at #10 but there safe to say many of the boys new to firsts have a way to go to make an impact at this level.
Best for Newington were the prop Helu, who was excellent and is already well- known to representative selectors; Lawson and Grey were the best of the other forwards.
Turner was solid filling in at #10 and Taukomo was good in stages but his opposite number at #12 for Kings Orpen is always a solid defender.
Kings were stronger overall but had some defensive weaknesses which allowed Newington to get back in the game too easily.
For Kings, lock Brown played well as did his second-row partner Williams on debut. Peitsch had a strong second half with two tries and was well supported, particularly in defence, by his fellow-backrowers #6 Skelly and #7 Ryan. Brown was excellent at #9 with both distribution and goal kicking.
The back three including the debut wingers were first-class and fullback Osborne had claims to be man of the match. His long clearing kicks will be a valuable asset for Kings’ this year.
Although both sides scored five tries each, Kings’ performance in the second half was brilliant. They emerged from a conservative forwards-based game, to outshine Newington in enthusiasm with open play.
For its part, Newington simply failed to lift enough when it counted and could not match the intensity of Kings in the second half.
Shore v Scots
by Gary Owen III
A smoky haze across Northbridge was the only gloomy part of the build-up to the first round clash between these two old foes. Scots have been dominant in recent years and Shore the reverse. But speculation was both of these statistics might be on the cards to change in 2016.
The first exchanges saw Scots applying pressure from the kick-off. Shore managed to repel these advances and drew the first points of the game via a Max Sinclair penalty goal.
Soon after Scots’ halfback Ben Miller thought he had the season’s first try as he darted down the blind of a maul on Shore’s line only to be brought back for a truck’n’trailer penalty to Shore. More Scots pressure followed and Shore managed to hold on through desperate defence and aided by some Scots’ errors.
Scots held all the territory but another mistake let Shore invade and receive another kickable penalty. Sinclair slotted his second goal and Shore led 6-0 after about 17mins.
Scots continued attacking and the game stayed in Shore real estate as they launched wave after wave. Shore added to this pressure when a clearing penalty kick did not find touch and Scots countered with multiple phases. They created a four-man overlap and 15 Charlie Burnett scored wide out; there were no extras and Shore still led 6-5.
Charlie Crawford, no. 8, barged over for the second Scots’ try after a break by 7 Hugh Green, There was no conversion but Scots led now 10-6. A penalty in front of goal at about the 30 min mark surprised most as Scots chose to go for goal – I believe their first attempt at a penalty goal in over a year.
Ironically it hit the post and Shore managed to clear the ball – again not finding touch – but at least the chase of Rory Suttor put Shore in good field position and they had the final waves of attack for the half.
Shore had two real chances one from a kick, which eventually saw No. 15 Luke Rixon scoot over after picking the scraps of a Scots error – but the linesman had already called the ball out, and another when winger Edward Gregory flew down the flank but only to be thwarted five metres out.
Half time score: Scots 10- Shore 6.
Shore had the early opportunities as the persisted with attacking kicking. The chasing Shore left winger narrowly missed scoring as a cruel bounce eluded him, then as Scots do they marched the ball the length of the field. From a scrum in centre-field they spun the ball left and Scots No. 12 Ryan O’Beirne shrugged off a tackle for the third Scots’ try. The flags went up this time and Scots led 17-6.
Shore kept the game alive when 14 Dom Hedley scored a neat try for them to come back to 13-17 with plenty of time left. The rest of the half was dominated by Shore kicking and Scots countering.
Scots took a penalty goal to extend the lead to 20-13 and they scored again at the death through O’Beirne to seal the victory. Both teams had plenty of chances to take the game since the other team was providing ball through their handling errors, but all-in-all the defence of both teams was solid enough to keep the score low.
Final score: Scots 25 – Shore 13.
Neither team will be happy – Scots with their ball handling and error rate – and Shore with their errant kicking game and error rate. But both teams will take plenty of positives from the clash and will be better for the run,
Scots – best were
15 – Charlie Burnett – solid in defence and made some great yards in counter
2 – Charlie Jeavons-Fellows – some big runs and made a pest of himself at the breakdown
7 – Hugh Green – always on the ball and made a couple of telling breaks
Shore – best were
5 – Rory Suttor – Tireless workhorse who was the backbone of the Shore defence
11 – Edward Gregory – great defence, a few big runs and a magic flick pass
12 – Max Sinclair – strong in the midfield, particularly defensively and showed he can kick a long goal
Scots 25 (R.OBeirne 2, C.Burnett, C.Crawford tries; C.Burnett con, pen.) def. Shore 13 (D.Hedley try; M.Sinclair 2 pen, con.)
Photos by “Lee Grant” unless mentioned otherwise