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CAS Rugby 2013

Who will be the 2013 Premiers


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Lee Grant

John Eales (66)
Agree with cyclopath's post.

I think we should put up a blog every week of the CAS games - just brief reports, then combine them in one blog.

They don't have to be War and Peace: just a sentence of introduction - or two - a paragraph on the scoring (matter of fact - maybe one for each half) - a paragraph on the flow of the game - and a paragraph on who played well and are candidates for CAS (use names and positions, not just numbers) - and details of the scoring with no comments (who scored the tries and kicked the goals).

Anybody interested? - you could just write them as posts in this thread but they have to be done by Saturday - or latest Sunday morning. I will put them together in one blog with a by line to you.

How about it guys? Let me know week by week so 5 guys aren't doing it one week and zero guys the next week.

Who is going to a game on Saturday? Come on now.
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alpha

Peter Burge (5)
A few thoughts on the Barker Waverley match (I'd already written it when the thread was suspended; not sure it meets the suggested guidelines re War and Peace; but here it is anyway:)

Barker 22 (Tries: Smerdon, Ellwood-Hall, Jones; Jones goal + penalty, Smerdon goal) Waverley 15 (Tries: Powter, Narayan; Duffy 2 goals + penalty) [from CAS web site with correction on the final Barker conversion]

Very tough match played at a high level. Waverley side looked a lot like the 2012 Barker side – very strong tight 5, mobile aggressive loose forwards, and a solid back line with good defensive shape and reliable tackling.

The game plan needed against this Barker side has been supposedly known by all since before the season began – see the preview at http://www.greenandgoldrugby.com/cas-preview-2013-can-barker-be-beaten/ So far Waverley are the only team that has been able to execute it. Barker forwards lack individual stars (apart from 6 – Burkett) but are better than people give them credit for.

First half looked like most matches this year, Barker leading 12-3 at half time with tries to Smerdon (10) and Elwood-Hall (14). Barker was under siege early but the defence held (similar happened in Knox and Cranbrook games). Backs looked dangerous every time they touched the ball.

Second half did not follow the script. Waverley held the ball in the forwards for long stretches and a sustained pick and drive gave them their first try under the posts to close the gap to 10-12. Waverley scrum got on top of Barker (Waverley #3 was a huge boy but #1 was dominant at scrum time in the 2nd half). On the few occasions Barker backs saw the ball Waverley defence was good enough, including some solid hits on the previously impossible to tackle Harry Jones (15). Several times Davis (11) got around his opponent but the Waverley defence scrambled and covered, especially #15. Interesting tactical decisions by Barker – half way through the 2nd half, deep in Waverley territory & leading only 12-10 they took the penalty goal for a 15-10 lead. (BTW Waverley goal kicker has a huge boot). More puzzling later in the game - on several occasions they were close to scoring but kept the ball in the forwards, where Waverley held firm and eventually caused turnovers.

Waverley backs were solid but never threatened. Most teams this year have chosen to bash the 10 channel. Last year Barker switched Smerdon (yr 10 boy at the time and often smallest player on the field) to the wing in defence. This year he defends at 10 and nobody has broken through that channel. Waverley 10 regularly ran the across and unders play to hit this channel, with nil success. In the 2nd half Waverley kept it in tighter & Barker 9 did a huge amount of heavy tackling. Waverley 10 has been talked about a lot re CAS selection; he looked good but I’d give the edge to Smerdon for his speed and attacking brilliance – scored the first try and released Jones for the match winner.

The centre combinations largely cancelled each other out. Waverley 13 is a big lad and was important in containing Jones. Barker wingers were clearly superior but very limited opportunities. Waverley played a great 2nd half largely keeping the ball in the forwards with sustained pick and drive. Their second try came from a scrum 5 metres out with the scorer getting in virtually untouched (missed the number). Not sure of the defensive assignments here, but someone missed it, anyway to err is human. Waverley ahead 17-15 with only a few minutes left made for an interesting finish, with a strange twist in the tale.

Barker panicked a bit and forced some poor passes (the immortal Jones included, who had a SBW style offload intercepted). Waverley regained possession and were deep in Barker territory when, with time up, the half back took the ball from the back of the ruck and threw it far over the side line to secure the victory. Penalty to Barker (if only he had kicked it out!). Unable to kick for touch Barker ran from inside their own 22, a few phases later Waverley were scrambling well and Barker had gained only a few metres. With a few forwards lined up for another hit up Barker 9 threw a long ball behind them to 10 who sprinted at an angle toward the line. Waverley defence had compressed, marking the players lined up for the hit up. 10 raced through a large gap, drew the remaining cover and passed to Jones in the clear, but still with 40 metres to run. Waverley 15 was confronted with Jones (the ball carrier) and Elwood-Hall to his outside at full speed. In the end he edged towards Elwood-Hall, Jones dummied and ran the 35 or 40 metres left to score under the posts. Barker celebrated and Waverley boys were on their knees in despair (literally).

Last year Waverley travelled to Barker and came away with a draw, same result would have been fair this year. Both teams belted each other in a high quality game. Comp is alive. At the very least when these teams face each other at Queens Park Waverley might be playing for a share of the comp. Who knows, a resurgent Trinity may be in the mix. Next weekend Trinity Barker now looks very interesting.
 

Insight

Stan Wickham (3)
Observations from the Barker/ Waverley match on Saturday
First half
Barker never looked like losing Waverley look nervous and was unable to break through the defense of Barker back line, with the number 13 from Waverley the only exception a strong runner with strength. The cover defense ensured he didn't progress more than a few meters.
Waverley's forward pack work well as a team, made many meters only to be driven back by some quick ball and pace by Barker outside backs who look dangerous every time they ran. Too Waverley's credit their defense was excellent insuring Barker backs ran out of space driving them into touch on many occasions.
The second half
Was a different ball game, Barker allowed Waverley back into the game by trying to outmuscle them upfront, not utilizing their back line, pushing the phases by one too many and losing to a knock-on or penalty, too Waverley's credit they capitalized on this, driving barker back to their own 22 coming away with a try, this motivated Waverley and you could see the intensity and commitment from all of their players, which Barker did not lift to meet.
Some clever play by the forwards, Slowed the game down played at their pace to ensure Barker did not get the upper hand. Intelligent play around the racks and scrums their second try came from holding onto barkers breakaway which left the door open to number 8 to go over, theoretically not allowed but good on them for getting away with it.
To barkers credit under a lot of pressure in the dying seconds it is pleasing to see a levelheaded number 10 lifting his head to observe his opponents seeing the opportunity accelerating between slower forwards finishing off with a excellent pass to his number 15 who was always going to score given he's pace and talent.
Waverley will feel disappointed with the loss but I am sure barker was more disappointed with their performance with only one player coming off with a smile on his face.
Excellent game to watch as a spectator. Not knowing which way the game would go, until the last 20 seconds.
Always difficult to pick standouts in the forwards overall Waverley scrums and racks were better with Barker lineout’s better executed.
Waverley's 10 and 13 had a good game
Barker back line did not have a lot of ball but excellent defense.
 

Benched '84

Allen Oxlade (6)
Last two reports, great blow by blow descriptions! sure you weren't on the field with the boys?
To the Waverly #9, mate you did not loose the game, you play in a great TEAM, all you did was cop a penalty, you had a top game, penalties happen a dozen times per game, the tough part was that it was against a team that was able to score in the last play.
Soo looking forward to the return match.
 

Snort

Nev Cottrell (35)
Ok, so Waverley has shown that Barker may be unbeaten but they're not invulnerable. If you were coaching Trinity, how would you plan to beat them this week?

Every now and then it happens that a team that is, objectively speaking, man-for-man weaker, beats a team that is, on form and on paper, stronger. Sometimes this happens because the stronger team is complacent (think Tonga 16 Australia 11, 1973); sometimes it happens because the weaker team plays with an extraordinary level of commitment (Munster 12, New Zealand 0, 1978) and sometimes it happens because everything the weaker team attempts comes off (France 24 new Zealand 19, 1979). But mostly it happens because the weaker team adopts a good strategy and implements it well.

So, what should Trinity do? I mean in terms of strategy - obviously a lot turns on what coaches call "execution". Don't drop the ball. Make the first-up tackles. Get the basics right. That stuff matters a lot. But what's the game plan?

Well, for what they're worth, here are my thoughts.

1 Love the one you're with

Or, to put it another way, the game plan needs to suit the players you actually have. For Trinity, that's a tough pack with a big tight five, a bit of talent in an unco-ordinated back line, and no kicking game to speak of. It would be great to have the speedy backs and mobile pack of the 2011 side, but those guys have gone. Trinity needs to recognise that its strategy must match the talent that it puts on the field.

2 Get the big men running at the backs

Obviously if Trinity can win, it needs to happen in the forwards. But while Barker has a no-stars, no-frills pack, the team's defence has been excellent all year and no-one (except perhaps Waverley last week) has succeeded in outmuscling the Barker pack. by all means Trinity should take them on; but that's not a winning strategy. The winning strategy is to line up the big men (McLean, Satiu, King, Corias and whoever else makes it onto the field) and get them running hard at Barker's backs. Attack Smerdon at 10 and Stoltz at 12. Work the blind side and force Davis and Jones to defend. Why? Well, they're all good defenders, so it's not attacking a weakness per se. But it increases the odds of ground being made, because of the imbalance of size, and more importantly, the goal should be to grind Barker down and wear them out. Forcer those backs to tackle, and tackle, and tackle, and wear them down.

3 Patience

Trinity needs to accept that they don't have players who csan score at will from anywhere on the field. On the other hand, no-one stops McLean (five tries from four games) close to the line, and Satiu is just as dangerous. So Trinity needs to hold the ball and grind away. If there's a choice between throwing a miracle pass and holding possession, hold possession. Patience is everything. Except for discipline. That's everything, too.

4 Kick for touch only

Whicker, Trinity's 9 and captain, has developed the habit of hoisting the ball downfield from a scrum or ruck inside his own quarter. Pointless against Barker - that just gives Jones a chance to run back at you, and who needs that? It will suit Trinity better to hold the ball, and kick only for territory and then only for touch. Sure, Barker will win the lineout, but there's a world of difference between running against a settled defence from a set piece and running in broken play. And a slower game works in Trinity's favour.

5 Take the points when they're there

Ebeling isn't the world's greatest goal-kicker, but he's OK. If Trinity gets a penalty within forty metres of the line - take the shot. Tap-and-go is all very well, but Barker defends really well, and if they give you a chance of scoring, you'd be well advised to take it. There's no shame in scoring points three by three.

There - that's how I'd do it anyway. You'd never guess, would you, that I played at Sydney University when Dave Brockhoff and Rupert Rosenblum were still key influences on our game? If Trinity plays like this, it won't be pretty. But I'd sooner grind out a 12-11 win than lose 46-28 in a festival of running Rugby. I guess I should add one more point:

6 Be lucky

It was Napoleon who said, when asked what qualities he most admired in a general, "luck". Trinity needs to hope it keeps raining - a slow ground helps them. They need to hope Ola Moala makes a miracle return to fitness. They need to hope that Jones has an off day. They need the fifty-fifty calls to go their way.

I don't make predictions any more. But I'll say this. Barker is the better team. But if, on the day, Trinity can be the smarter team, it could be quite a game.
 

Eshayz

Sydney Middleton (9)
The waverley barker game was the one game where the opposition ed didnt seem to let Barker take the second half in their hands. They stayed strong and Faught hard. As you all say Trinity v Barker will be interesting.

Did somebody say that there was a special event on at trinity that day too? - Meaning ALOT of trinity supporters?
 

Snort

Nev Cottrell (35)
The waverley barker game was the one game where the opposition ed didnt seem to let Barker take the second half in their hands. They stayed strong and Faught hard. As you all say Trinity v Barker will be interesting.

Did somebody say that there was a special event on at trinity that day too? - Meaning ALOT of trinity supporters?

There's a lunch on for old boy Rugby players, at which the school's Rugby history will be released. Don't know whether that will translate into a big crowd, though.
 

rtd32

Larry Dwyer (12)
In terms of luck I think trinity have had a minimal share of it this season. However, who's to say it won't start now? The one thing I would say as an objective onlooker is that barker have already had an off form game last week (to an on form Waverley)... Trinity are pretty unfortunate to be playing the week directly following this as it's unlikely that it will happen again (at least in the short term).

For Barker last week, complacency may have been the issue, or a poorly planned/executed game plan but regardless of what it was, it's unlikely the boys are going to relax and forget about it this week... They'll be training hard and doing their homework going over footage of the trinity key plays as well as the mistakes they made last week. I think it will be a close game but indeed, trinity will need a lot of things to go their way in order to pull off a win
 

Eshayz

Sydney Middleton (9)
ahh I see.

Knox v Cranbrook at Knox could be a good game to watch, interesting to see how that goes. Although cranbrook looked like they had a strong team at te start of the season, it seems like they have lost a few players, I'd say Knox by 10 being the home team.

Waverley should crank Aloys. it's at Death Valley too so might be another cricket score.
 

Snort

Nev Cottrell (35)
Waverley should crank Aloys. it's at Death Valley too so might be another cricket score.

Eshayz, I advise you against predicting that Aloys will get "cranked". There's a guy out there somewhere who sends me volleys of abuse if I ever suggest that Aloys will do anything but win by about a thousand points.
 

Eshayz

Sydney Middleton (9)
Eshayz, I advise you against predicting that Aloys will get "cranked". There's a guy out there somewhere who sends me volleys of abuse if I ever suggest that Aloys will do anything but win by about a thousand points.

I'd like to see what he says. and he should write it right here. - but I'd suggest he reads my name first because Eshayz is dangerous!

However thanks for the advice I'll make it more subtle next time.
 

rtd32

Larry Dwyer (12)
Eshayz, I advise you against predicting that Aloys will get "cranked". There's a guy out there somewhere who sends me volleys of abuse if I ever suggest that Aloys will do anything but win by about a thousand points.
So essentially that certain person has been kidding themselves for about 40 years?
 

NWilliamson

Frank Row (1)
Waverley centre combination of shrek and donkey will cause alot of trouble to the aloys boys as they enter death valley

Can you please take your rubbish elsewhere this is a serious rugby forum and your schoolyard jokes are not wanted here. Either add some value to the conversation or leave it as it is.
 

Elfster

Alex Ross (28)
A somewhat delayed review of the Aloy’s / Knox game. And the weather does exaggerate the time as Saturday was a glorious day to both watch and play Rugby. And so I found myself at the quite quaint Aloysius field at Willoughby. Though not as grand nor spectacular as other grounds, the Aloy’s oval is generally a pleasant place to watch Rugby and it always makes a visitor welcome. Especially with the BBQ enthusiastically going in full flight offering the spectator various types of BBQ’d protein (to use cooking shows’ terminology) in quite satisfying morsels. Though one criticism would be the bread; it wasn’t quite up to the quality of the filling. Being bland and with-out texture. Though that was a minor quibble. One thing other places don’t do, was the range of condiments on offer. Not just the tomato and BBQ sauce in the large pump-action dispensers (and that leads to one of those other un-answered questions of the universe – how come does BBQ and tomato sauce no longer need refrigeration when it is in 2 litre containers. Or is it just the bottles I buy which emphasises that fact??) But back to the condiments, I did like the range on offer. I noticed that the various members of the Aloys community were taking in various baked wonders for afternoon tea into the main room of the stand. Ladies (and gents) going forward, if you want to make an impression, I would suggest that you bring in some home-made relish or chutney to add to the condiments. Just a thought. And if I should meander further, there was another criticism. In bygone times the Aloy’s oval used to serve quite above average meat pies. Like many things from my younger years, I do miss them.



I got to the ground in plenty of time to watch the 2nds and enjoy the sunny afternoon. One thing about Aloys against the larger schools is always their depth. And this is most apparent in the non-A sides. Though they play with heart, their seems to be an unstated feeling that the result is inevitable in the lower grades. As fatigue and injuries take a toll the game is always going to end one way. That doesn’t mean they don’t give a go, and this was apparent in the 2nds. Though they had some good periods of play in which they looked competitive, especially in the second half, the Knox side were a few levels above them. In fact for a while the main thing keeping Aloy’s in the game was the tardiness of the score board attendants in updating the score. Aloys suffered an injury to the front row which resulted in uncontested scrums – though, ironically, this favoured Aloys more than Knox. Knox also started subbing players which caused disruption to their play. But, as is often the case, the Knox 2nds backline looked more cohesive and dangerous than their firsts. (Though this could be an unfair advantage as the firsts do play against stiffer competition.) They had speed, size and the ability to run straight and at speed onto the ball. Something the first could look at. But it was an open game and a convincing win to Knox.



The 1sts game started with Aloys playing with greater enthusiasm, intensity and discipline than Knox. With a stream of penalties Aloys were soon up 3 nil. And they also missed another fairly easy penalty. Knox got some possession and scored off a set move. I can’t remember whether it was converted, but the Knox kicker did miss a very easy conversion attempt at one stage. At that point Aloys played played some well structured forward pick and drive to un-leash the full back. He got into some space, put a kick through and this resulted in a good long distance try. As in other games the Knox defence seemed rather weak. In both structure and tackle effectiveness. Their discipline was also causing issues. The try was not converted, but it must have given the Aloys some confidence as they scored a very good long distance try. The backs and forwards combining well with some nice passing to score near the posts. This was converted and Aloys were up 15 – 5 (or 7). Things were looking ominous for Knox, but they lifted and scored a good try of their own. Using their backs to effect – running onto the ball rather than running across the field. Actually Aloys may have scored another penalty by that time, but if they hadn’t Knox and Aloys had scored a penalty each leading to an 18 – 15 scoreline to Aloys at half time. The second hand promised a good game and Aloys could easily have contemplated a victory.



I see Aloys as a guerrilla side. They play with guile, skill and surprise to take on larger and better organised opposition. The set piece is not their style and if they get bogged down in a pedantic structure they will be worn down. But they will play with speed and a willingness to take advantage of any situation. They seek to take the initiative and use it to hide their deficiencies in size and depth. This works well, but should the opposition weather the storm and be able to take the hits they can struggle. This is probably what happened on Saturday. Though they were still too penalty prone, Knox started playing with a bit more confidence and their defence started working. They scored three tries to nil in the second half and they started using the speed of their backs and also there was a bit more of aggression in the forwards. Perhaps a bit too much as one of their second rowers was sinbinned. At the time I thought it would be critical to the result as it was still fairly close at that time, but Knox kept control of the game and score two latish tries that made the final result more comfortable. In fact, one of the turning points was probably the Aloy’s sin bin. Which I thought was probably a little unfair, as Aloys hadn’t given away too many penalties up till that time. Though the penalty was probably cynical and was in a defensive position.



Knox would be happy with the win. However their discipline would be a worry to the coaches. Their defence again was weak, but improved in the second half. The team was quite a bit different – they seem to still have injuries to come back or some of the 1st players from earlier games quite out of favour. Their n8 Van der Zwyl was impressive. Their half has a good pass and their outside backs quite pacy. Their number 13 had a good game – he hasn’t played in recent weeks. Their backline still seems disorganised – often a bit too much hesitancy in attack. And they drift too much – when they ran onto the pass at speed they made lots of distance. Something Aloys did well, and something Barker does very well this year. The hooker also had a good, busy and visible game. The Knox line out was a bit of a joke. Overly complicated to the point of ineffectiveness. It performed much better when they kept it simple. Instead they moved around in strange and delayed permutations as if in the midst of an Andre Rieu musical opus – a shortened and sanitised version of the Ring Trilogy or something. Or perhaps they team was still trying to pay homage to the Knox Musical preview from the Barker game.



Aloys played well as a team. They did the basic things well, and everyone put in. Initially they played to an effective game plan and played as if they knew what they were doing. Their outside centre and full back played well. They had a big prop who was also noticeable. I am lead to believe that they also had some injuries, so their side was probably a bit down on that. And they also did play Barker the week before. They started the game as if they knew they could beatr Knox. However I also think Knox may be, finally, showing some form and confidence.



But it was a good game. It was entertaining, interesting, tight and competitive for a fair portion of the game. And the sunny and glorious day must have had an impact on the players; for in most it was played in a friendly and good nature, despite the competitive nature.
 

Snort

Nev Cottrell (35)
Elfster's report, to my way of thinking, sums up a lot about St Aloysius Rugby. I've bene taken to task for predicting that they would finish last this year, and they may yet avoid that, although at present that's where they sit. But there's no doubt that they play with pride and commitment. Their problem is that their enrolment policy doesn't allow them to compete against bigger schools with different enrolment policies. That might be unfair, but it's life, I'm afraid. The interesting thing is just how many representative players have come out of the school in recent years - Pat McCabe, Bernard Foley, Tom Kingston and so on. This is a fine achievement. It's just that you can't do well in a ten-round competition without depth. This year, St Aloysius has two bona fide stars in Williams and Goodearl, and I think a lot of Vevers, too. But if they get injured leaves the side exposed. Whereas, say, at Barker, the guy who steps up into the Firsts isn't far behind the guy he replaces. I don't know if there's a solution to this. There's no reason why St Aloysius should feel obliged to change its policies. But there's a consequence that goes with that. I suppose that St Aloysius can look forward to being, perenially, like Scotland in the Six Nations - plucky battlers who produce some good individuals and now and then knock off more highly-regarded teams.
 

Snort

Nev Cottrell (35)
Confession time: I left Knox/Trinity before the final whistle. Look, it's a hell of along drive, OK? And it looked as though Trinity had just scored to put the match out of reach (they hadn't). I didn't realise until I saw the YouTube clip that the shot at goal that would have won the match hit the post. Sheesh.
 

silverarrow

Frank Nicholson (4)
Observations from the Barker/ Waverley match on Saturday
First half
Barker never looked like losing Waverley look nervous and was unable to break through the defense of Barker back line, with the number 13 from Waverley the only exception a strong runner with strength. The cover defense ensured he didn't progress more than a few meters.
Waverley's forward pack work well as a team, made many meters only to be driven back by some quick ball and pace by Barker outside backs who look dangerous every time they ran. Too Waverley's credit their defense was excellent insuring Barker backs ran out of space driving them into touch on many occasions.
The second half
Was a different ball game, Barker allowed Waverley back into the game by trying to outmuscle them upfront, not utilizing their back line, pushing the phases by one too many and losing to a knock-on or penalty, too Waverley's credit they capitalized on this, driving barker back to their own 22 coming away with a try, this motivated Waverley and you could see the intensity and commitment from all of their players, which Barker did not lift to meet.
Some clever play by the forwards, Slowed the game down played at their pace to ensure Barker did not get the upper hand. Intelligent play around the racks and scrums their second try came from holding onto barkers breakaway which left the door open to number 8 to go over, theoretically not allowed but good on them for getting away with it.
To barkers credit under a lot of pressure in the dying seconds it is pleasing to see a levelheaded number 10 lifting his head to observe his opponents seeing the opportunity accelerating between slower forwards finishing off with a excellent pass to his number 15 who was always going to score given he's pace and talent.
Waverley will feel disappointed with the loss but I am sure barker was more disappointed with their performance with only one player coming off with a smile on his face.
Excellent game to watch as a spectator. Not knowing which way the game would go, until the last 20 seconds.
Always difficult to pick standouts in the forwards overall Waverley scrums and racks were better with Barker lineout’s better executed.
Waverley's 10 and 13 had a good game
Barker back line did not have a lot of ball but excellent defense.


Thanks for your match report.

I do think you have not given enough credit to the Waverley forwards though, especially in regards to the 2nd Waverley try. I have this on video and have watched it a few times now. This scrum was the third in a row a few meters out from the Barker line. Barker were 15 to Waverley 10 at the time with about 7 mins to go. Waverley were dominant in each scrum - hence the choice for two scrums for the two penalties. From my observation the Waverley scrum was so dominant that when their number 8 (Powter) stopped pushing to pick up the ball, the Barker scrum did not notice he wasn't there. A good feint also by Waverley number 9 (Narayan) to the blind side as Powter went untouched on the open side, largely because Barker were still pushing, not because of any spurious assertion of illegal holding. Even getting past the Barker 7 and 8 he still got between the vaunted Jones and one other (number obscured on video) from the Barker back line to score a very much needed try. Once converted 17-15 to Waverley.
Waverley were absolutely gutted by the loss after the bell. They will put this behind them and keep up the work rate in the weeks to come.
 

silverarrow

Frank Nicholson (4)
Ok, so Waverley has shown that Barker may be unbeaten but they're not invulnerable. If you were coaching Trinity, how would you plan to beat them this week?

Every now and then it happens that a team that is, objectively speaking, man-for-man weaker, beats a team that is, on form and on paper, stronger. Sometimes this happens because the stronger team is complacent (think Tonga 16 Australia 11, 1973); sometimes it happens because the weaker team plays with an extraordinary level of commitment (Munster 12, New Zealand 0, 1978) and sometimes it happens because everything the weaker team attempts comes off (France 24 new Zealand 19, 1979). But mostly it happens because the weaker team adopts a good strategy and implements it well.

So, what should Trinity do? I mean in terms of strategy - obviously a lot turns on what coaches call "execution". Don't drop the ball. Make the first-up tackles. Get the basics right. That stuff matters a lot. But what's the game plan?

Well, for what they're worth, here are my thoughts.

1 Love the one you're with

Or, to put it another way, the game plan needs to suit the players you actually have. For Trinity, that's a tough pack with a big tight five, a bit of talent in an unco-ordinated back line, and no kicking game to speak of. It would be great to have the speedy backs and mobile pack of the 2011 side, but those guys have gone. Trinity needs to recognise that its strategy must match the talent that it puts on the field.

2 Get the big men running at the backs

Obviously if Trinity can win, it needs to happen in the forwards. But while Barker has a no-stars, no-frills pack, the team's defence has been excellent all year and no-one (except perhaps Waverley last week) has succeeded in outmuscling the Barker pack. by all means Trinity should take them on; but that's not a winning strategy. The winning strategy is to line up the big men (McLean, Satiu, King, Corias and whoever else makes it onto the field) and get them running hard at Barker's backs. Attack Smerdon at 10 and Stoltz at 12. Work the blind side and force Davis and Jones to defend. Why? Well, they're all good defenders, so it's not attacking a weakness per se. But it increases the odds of ground being made, because of the imbalance of size, and more importantly, the goal should be to grind Barker down and wear them out. Forcer those backs to tackle, and tackle, and tackle, and wear them down.

3 Patience

Trinity needs to accept that they don't have players who csan score at will from anywhere on the field. On the other hand, no-one stops McLean (five tries from four games) close to the line, and Satiu is just as dangerous. So Trinity needs to hold the ball and grind away. If there's a choice between throwing a miracle pass and holding possession, hold possession. Patience is everything. Except for discipline. That's everything, too.

4 Kick for touch only

Whicker, Trinity's 9 and captain, has developed the habit of hoisting the ball downfield from a scrum or ruck inside his own quarter. Pointless against Barker - that just gives Jones a chance to run back at you, and who needs that? It will suit Trinity better to hold the ball, and kick only for territory and then only for touch. Sure, Barker will win the lineout, but there's a world of difference between running against a settled defence from a set piece and running in broken play. And a slower game works in Trinity's favour.

5 Take the points when they're there

Ebeling isn't the world's greatest goal-kicker, but he's OK. If Trinity gets a penalty within forty metres of the line - take the shot. Tap-and-go is all very well, but Barker defends really well, and if they give you a chance of scoring, you'd be well advised to take it. There's no shame in scoring points three by three.

There - that's how I'd do it anyway. You'd never guess, would you, that I played at Sydney University when Dave Brockhoff and Rupert Rosenblum were still key influences on our game? If Trinity plays like this, it won't be pretty. But I'd sooner grind out a 12-11 win than lose 46-28 in a festival of running Rugby. I guess I should add one more point:

6 Be lucky

It was Napoleon who said, when asked what qualities he most admired in a general, "luck". Trinity needs to hope it keeps raining - a slow ground helps them. They need to hope Ola Moala makes a miracle return to fitness. They need to hope that Jones has an off day. They need the fifty-fifty calls to go their way.

I don't make predictions any more. But I'll say this. Barker is the better team. But if, on the day, Trinity can be the smarter team, it could be quite a game.



I would also advise the Trinity Captain to ask the ref to watch for Red not rolling away, and sealing off. Very frustrating as a spectator on Sat. I reckon Barker have secretly had Richie McCaw over from NZ to teach them how he's been getting away with it since moses was a lad!!
 
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