A beautiful, clear blue day at White Oval in front of 3,000 rugby aficionados for the final game of the 2012 GPS season.
Scots 71 def. Kings 19
Kings started brightly in the opening moments, putting good pressure on the Scots line. This solid beginning disappeared in a heartbeat when Scots centre Jim Stewart shrugged off numerous tackles to score a solo effort in the opposite corner.
Missed tackles were the order of the day for Kings, as Scots’ skilful backline threw it wide at every opportunity and carved them up. Within ten minutes it was 12-0.
It was 31-7 at half time.
While Scots racked up the tries to win in a canter 71-19, what is more interesting is the manner of their victories this season – the style and intent of their rugby.
David Horwitz, the overlooked Australian Schoolboy five-eighth, looked to run it from within his 22 dozens of times this year. I think it is fair to say he almost never cleared his quarter with a defensive-minded clearing kick. What gives him this confidence? Well, one imagines the permission and encouragement of the coach plays a huge role. Another huge factor is having wide players of the calibre of Andrew Kellaway, Jim Stewart, Dylan Holmes and Seamus Frost outside. Rarely can a schoolboy 10 have had such gifted runners outside him and the confidence to use them.
One repeated tactic was to have 13 Jim Stewart field kick-offs and take the first hit; an immediate midfield charge would be followed by crisp passes to the outside, with Dylan Holmes invariably finding easy yards and space on the outside. This tactic took immense pressure off Scots’ smaller pack. I reckon Jim Stewart caught 20 to 30 kick-offs this season, operating in the middle of the forward pack. Of course, it helps that the Scots backs were bigger than those of every other team (except Newington’s).
Another tactic used effectively by Scots was the injection of their speedy 7 Hamish Murray from a wide position on the inside angle, which brought them good yards on the outside and spread the defence, leaving the 12 and 13 available for the ensuing phase.
The game was very entertaining, with plenty of tries scored and lots of sparkling running rugby. Andrew Kellaway again stamped his class on the game, particularly with a chip and chase regather for an individual try under the posts a real highlight. Kings did not have much answer on this day and their heads noticeably dropped during the second half.
Isileli Fa started his second game at prop for Scots, while Kings were without their strongest backline players Foketi, Jones and Tulloch.
10 Max Wylie showed elusiveness, aggression taking the ball to the line, and crisp passing all game, while outside him 13 Sam Carter showed glimpses of good footwork and speed against bigger opponents.
While many backline players steal all the headlines for Scots, today the forward pack gave the backs all the front-foot ball they could ever want. Ed Kennedy and Will Archer put in sterling performances, with Kennedy converting a try in the second half, à la John Eales. Hamish Murray in 7 had his best game, and Angus Crichton was again a terror.
Seamus Frost in jersey 22 will have scouts taking note with his speed, agility and one-handed off-load. Dylan Holmes in 11 was almost unstoppable.