GPS beat CAS in the 1st XV and 2nd XV matches at Knox Grammar School yesterday but the result in the main game was a lot closer than most people expected.
GPS 1st XV 29 — CAS 1st XV 14
The rain during the earlier Twos’ match held off for most of the main game but the water was on the grass and the ball was slippery. Both sides had trouble with the wet ball and a lot of the play was scrappy.
After six minutes of high-paced rugby GPS were in the CAS 22 and put on a sweeping move. 12. Milne attracted defenders and the ball went to 10. Clancy who passed to the left winger Craft, who was on the “wrong” side of the field. He scored wide out but the Lussick conversion missed – GPS 5-0.
GPS had the run of the game in the first quarter but couldn’t score another try, and then it was the turn of CAS to apply scoring pressure. They got down near the GPS try-line with a penalty kick for touch and hammered the defenders several times on the left.
GPS had to infringe and got warned; then when play switched to the right, THP Satiu barged over for CAS, assisted by his LHP McLean, latching on. 15. Jones converted from wide out for CAS to take the lead 7-5 after 23 minutes.
But soon after the restart CAS dropped their guard. GPS put on a Newington set move from a scrum and 12.Moeroa ran straight, right over defenders, to score even though they knew what was on. The conversion by Lussick had GPS back in front:12-7.
It seemed like that would be the score at oranges, but just before the half-time whistle GPS had the ball near half-way. Right winger Robinson hared off with it and after drawing a defender to him passed to scrumhalf Lussick backing up on the inside. He scored a try wide out and converted it too, for GPS to lead 19-7 at the break.
The ball was still wet and play was still disjointed but it didn’t stop CAS putting pressure on the GPS line early in the second half – and the defenders kept infringing. When a GPS lad went off his feet he got yellow carded for repeated team infringements.
The teams had turns at making mistakes but about 15 minutes into the second-half GPS flyhalf, Clancy, broke through for a long run and kicked though. CAS stopped that raid but were in the right real estate and soon after GPS 13. Milne powered through defenders to score in the right-hand corner. The conversion missed – GPS 24-7.
At 25 minutes it was the turn of CAS. Hooker Koutsoukis, took a tap kick penalty near the GPS line and after several pick and goes, he got another turn with the ball and went over. When Jones converted the score was 24-14.
Near the end of the match the roles were reversed and GPS attacked the CAS line as the rain came down again. Lussick scored his second try of the match, but he couldn’t convert it and GPS won 29-14.
Neither side handled the wet ball with distinction and too many long passes were thrown.
They were tepid against CHS but had clearly benefited from that outing and pleased the CAS supporters at the ground with their strong play against players who had bigger scrapbooks than they did. They were a class above their Twos’ side and that is probably why their reserves did not get much of a run compared to the GPS bench players.
Their biggest fault was not being able to exert scoreboard pressure and get consecutive scores. Nor could they score a point in their strong third quarter of the game, which is when GPS had a player in the bin.
Their front row performance was noticeably better than against CHS and you could see the improvement in their tight work compared to the loose display at Cranbrook.
They scored five tries to two and were always more likely to win, but sometimes they looked like Brown’s cows and struggled with their team work in their first game together. They also infringed too much when CAS were near their line and were fortunate not to get more than one yellow card. Mind you, CAS escaped sanction once after what appeared to be a deliberate knock forward near their line.
Their halves were not perfect in the wet ground conditions but they had the edge on the CAS pairing.
For all the times they had combined for Newington the big bopper centres, Moeroa and Milne, sometimes looked like strangers. But this didn’t stop them having some key moments even though CAS knew they were coming.
And there was not a lot a joy for CAS ball runners who collided with them either.
The back three didn’t get a lot of attack ball but I thought that Harry Jones proved himself as a custodian fullback last night in wet ground conditions and he also showed starch in tackles [see photo].
The front row took a giant leap from when they played CHS, and 3. Junior Satiu had another standout game of high energy and toughness. 2. Nick Koutsoukis, the pocket rocket hooker fizzed around the park and was rewarded with scoring the second CAS try after being held up over the line just before the first one.
15. Andrew Kellaway looked imperious sometimes with ball in hand and it beggars belief that he is used as a flyhalf for his school team because he is a runner before anything else .
12. Tepai Moeroa looked clumsy with the wet ball but, in mitigation, he used it to score a set piece try and also ran straight with it for GPS to exit from their 22. He is a commanding figure and I noticed he was bossing the fellows around him as though to the manor born.
13. Taane Milne was the best back on the park both on attack and defence. I have seen him play some average games but, taking the conditions into account, this was the best I have seen of him.
9. Joey Lussick had a fine all-round match. His passing is criticised but I saw him dish out some good stuff and his backing up and strong defence would have looked good to the NSW selectors because he is a big match style of player. This young lad will be playing the other code of rugby but I hope we can get him back to the union game later on.
3. Matt Sandell was the best GPS tight-five forward but it’s not saying a lot.
8. Angus Crichton was the pick of the backrowers in either side in the main game and would have been even better had he ran into opponents from a lower position.
Tries: Joey Lussick (2), Matt Craft, Tepai Moeroa, Taane Milne Conversions: Lussick (2) Yellow card: GPS – One
Tries: Joey Lussick (2), Matt Craft, Tepai Moeroa, Taane Milne
Conversions: Lussick (2)
Yellow card: GPS – One
Tries: Junior Satiu, Nick Koutsoukis Conversions: Harry Jones (2) Referee: Mr. Tim Mills
Tries: Junior Satiu, Nick Koutsoukis
Conversions: Harry Jones (2)
Referee: Mr. Tim Mills
GPS 2nd XV 31 — CAS 2nd XV 0
In the earlier game the one-sided score-line reflected the better player depth in GPS rugby this year, compared to that of CAS.
By half-time they had scored three tries to lead by 19-0, and two more in the second half took GPS to a victory of 31-0.
The starting GPS team was strong for a Twos’ side but their combinations were a bit ropey and their handling of the ball was not first-class. It got worse when the reserves came on in the fourth quarter, as is always the case in trials – and that is when the rain started to add to the scrappiness.
The GPS set pieces were too strong for the lads in the red jerseys especially the scrums.
It’s difficult to comment on the players in this match compared to those in the main game, because in the Twos the players of the losing team were on the back foot continually and could not be assessed properly. On the other hand, the players of the winning team could have looked better than they really were.
10. Andrew Deegan had a commanding running game for GPS and seemed to break the line at will in the first half. He also put on some big hits when defending.
It was good to see 20. Henry Hutchinson get a start at outside centre, though it was unfortunate for Will Davies to miss the opportunity. HH played well and scored the opening try.
The GPS backrow was too good for CAS. Flanker Jack McCalman had a bit of a blinder and I would promote him to the GPS Ones, where I would have selected him in the first place.
There are obviously other school associations to pick from, and the GPS were having their first hit-out, and conditions were not ideal.
Nevertheless the NSW selectors would not have been over the moon looking at CAS and GPS Ones’ candidates.
In some positions they have good choices. The two THPs are elite players and I wouldn’t be surprised if one of them switches to LHP if there is not a standout no.1 elsewhere. The two fullbacks are top performers but Kellaway has the bigger CV; so Jones could be chosen on the wing.
The backrowers were not stellar as a category of players; however the selectors have good choices elsewhere, such as in the GPS Twos and the CHS – and no doubt the ISA, who I haven’t seen this year.
But they lack tall hardwood timber in the second row and need power runners there; not converted back rowers trying their best to play tight.
Photos by Lee Grant