Scots were one win ahead of Kings and the Championship was theirs to lose.
Kings would have to beat a resurgent Joeys team at Hunters Hill to keep in touch, and one-time outright leader, Riverview, would have to get back on the horse at Shore after three losses in a row.
But there were surprises all over Sydney.
A magnificent ‘Back to Newington Day’ crowd filled their Stanmore amphitheater, providing all the atmospherics for the keenly anticipated re-match of recent Premiership heavy-weights.
Scots had the better of the opening exchanges, but appeared a bit ‘flat’, failing to convert early territory advantage into points.
Newington capitalised on continuity: first moving over the advantage line through the Scots’ three-quarters, then, getting inside the Scots’ 22 with controlled pick-and-driving. Result: New’s hooker Halaufia burrowed over the line to open the scoring.
Scots, stung to action, provided a ‘special’ in reply, with movement from halfway started by #11 Smith, with one more man always backing up inside. After four sets of hands, #13 Gavin scored, and fullback Simpson slotted the extras. Scots up 7-5 early.
Scots D, uncharacteristically, leaked some in the mid-field, but they hung in courtesy of Newington dropping the ball – or desperate last-ditch efforts, such as a memorable open-field one-on-one, try-saving tackle from Scots’ custodian, Simpson, on flying Newington #12 Duvall,
From field positions set up by the choices of sniper-in-chief, #9 Haldane, New’s weight of possession started to tell and right wing Kaloterakis, reached out and scored after a perfectly timed out-ball from fullback Gilfedder. Kuenzle corrected his earlier radar settings, and nailed the conversion from touch. Newington ahead 12-7.
Scots #14 Yassim barged through the middle and scored a powerful individual try right in front of the Newington Old-Boys Hill. It put Scots back in the lead, but near the break New grabbed another with an at-the-line, burrow by no.8 Lawson.
Half-time score: Newington 19 – Scots 14
New’s go-to strategy mentioned before was rewarded with a penalty kick to extend their lead. Only ball-and-all defending from Scots’ piggies and scrumhalf Miller, at their own line, held the Scots’ fort intact from the raiders.
Then fullback Simpson, of Scots, fed unselfishly to winger Yassmin who scored. It narrowed the gap but a converted try to New’s #12 Duvall re-established New’s margin at 29-19, though it was still far from comfortable.
Inside ten minutes ’ remaining, Scots showed their mettle with a midfield bust by lock Finlayson to set up one of Scots’ best on the day, to Smith. After the conversion Newington still led 29-26 to set up a grandstand finish for all to wring their withers.
A calmly slotted penalty by Scots with two minutes remaining tied the score 29-all.
Through the longest final minute, New held their nerve. They worked up field, picked-and-drove with control for umpteen phases, before Haldane unleashed his three-quarters with a final flourish from #13 Turner who dotted down in front of the ecstatic Old Boys for the win.
[See “Sidesteppa’s video of winning try in Discussion below.]
Full-time score: Newington 34 – Scots 29
Newington thoroughly deserved their win by playing smarter, more controlled footy for longer, and converting possession and territory into points when it mattered.
Scots made some uncharacteristic errors in their mid-field D, and sometimes looked like they weren’t playing what was in front of them on attack, including overuse of the rolling maul deep in Newington’s half. The final score line probably flattered them.
#9 James Haldane – superb game behind a well-drilled pack. Directed many critical assaults.
#3 Opeti Helu – bold charges had Newington’s faithful at full voice. Was instrumental in keeping his brother piggies ‘on song’. Recognition should be shared with fellow front-rowers, LHP Icanovski and hooker Halaufia, who worked seamlessly as a unit.
#8 Nathan Lawson – key back-rower for New, combining with Haldane to pressure Scots’ inside defensive strategies.
#7 Hugh Green – busiest loosie on the field. Tough as nails, hurled himself into contested possessions, and won some telling turnovers.
#2 Charlie Jeavons-Fellows – doesn’t know how to put in an ‘average’ game. Went full-tilt, and is the best tackler in his side.
#15 Will Simpson – last man standing between New and more tries on several occasions. Had another fine kicking game.
It was another thriller ending, with Scots on the short-end this time; but with other results falling their way, and just two rounds left, Scots kept their noses in front as ladder-leaders—just.
Newington 34 (Halaufia, Kaloterakis, Lawson, Duvall, Turner, tries; Kuenzle 3 cons, pen.) def. Scots 29 (Yassim 2, Gavin, Smith tries; Simpson cons, pen.)
2nd XV: Scots 31 def. New 3
3rd XV: Scots 22 def. New 13
See video highlights courtesy of “Sidesteppa”in Discussion below
by Lee Grant
Joeys succumbed to Kings’ pressure with bad discipline last time. What about this week?
They looked in strife this time also, four minutes into the half when Kings threatened on the right but switched the ball to the left. It looked too easy as winger Douglass could not find a tackler and scored in the corner. Kings 5-0.
Then Joeys parked in the Kings 22 and should have paid rent, but poor passing and catching wrecked their opportunities.
Though ahead, Kings did not look like Championship material but their scrum prevailed and Joeys were being penalised or free-kicked routinely.
So it was a surprise ten minutes before oranges when SJC took a scrum option instead of a penalty kick. Tell me it’s not true gasped the Hunters Hill faithful: they remembered them shunning three promising penalty chances in the Round 4 flood against Newington, to no effect.
But it was true; and when fullback McTaggart attracted two tacklers, 12 Reilly waltzed over to score. Great decision: Joeys 7-5.
When Kings got a yellow card, Joeys took advantage from a lineout and through flyhalf Wilkinson—and McTaggart, once more—winger Day scored and converted his try. Then Kings kicked a penalty after the restart clearance was charged down.
Half-time score: Joeys 14 – Kings 8
Day got Joeys into a good position from a long kick, but Kings’ fullback Osborne, a hoofer himself, charged up the field on the other side from the lineout. He was stopped by 13 Jaffer-Williams, and McTaggart nabbed Lynch; but after a scrum 13 Anese scored a pressure try for Kings.
The conversion attempt clattered the upright: Joeys by one: 14-13.
Then Jaffer-Williams caught Kings napping and chipped Osborne—a tall order. Despite a cruel bounce, the ball went to Day on the other side of the field, and he got his second, in the corner. Joeys 19-13.
Then Day bazookaed a penalty goal from near halfway – Joeys 22-13 – but 23 minutes remained
SJC got another plague of handling yips: some forced and some not; but then 7 Dalton went on a fine run and McTaggart was unlucky not to score as a result when his progress was arrested by Orpen.
But Kings didn’t care and they got to the other end. Joeys tried to run the ball out from their 22 but got the dropsies again and Kings punished them with an accurate maul try to Lombardi. Joeys 22-18.
Needing another try to win, Kings had nine minutes, and hammered the line with their ace ball-runners, but Joeys had done just enough and held on.
Final score: Joeys 22 – Kings 18.
Joeys weren’t as clinical as in their last two games, against Riverview and Shore; their poor handling would have been punished by a better team on the day. It’s just as well that their three Aussie Schools’ backs were on song.
But the defence of the forwards at the end got them the win.
Kings started sharply and looked like champs, but apart from their scrum they looked flat for long periods. They often looked promising but not enough half-chances matured into points.
3 points: Fullback Matthew McTaggart got the outside break most times he tried.
2 points: Winger Lachlan Day finished moves well for two tries and his long penalty goal was key.
1 points: Opensider Paddy Dalton had his best game: his running and defending were first-rate..
3 points: 12 Matthew Orpen: stopped a probable try and was the most dangerous back.
2 points: Fullback Luke Osborne was agile for a big bloke and his booming kicks from hand sent Joeys back to their half.
1 point: Hooker James Lynch backed up well and got to defenders just in time.
There wasn’t a lot in it the match which was exciting at the end, as close games are, but it lacked quality for long periods.
Another result elsewhere meant that Kings are still hanging on, but they will have to play better next week against Riverview, who are hurting.
Joeys will have to improve their handling if they are any chance of stopping their run of outs against Scots.
Joeys 22 ( L. Day 2, T. Reilly tries; L. Day 2 cons, pen) def. Kings 18 (W. Douglass, S. Anese, D. Lombardi tries; K. Brown pen.)
2nd XV: Kings 27 – Joeys 22
3rd XV: Joeys 22 – Kings 6
Photos of Joeys v Kings by Lee Grant
It was “Old Boys” day at Northbridge, with the Shore School hosting teams from Riverview across all grades. This is somewhat of a rarity in schoolboy rugby nowadays to have two schools being able to match up head to head in all teams.
Both teams were struggling for wins and conditions were ideal for a drought to break one way or the other.
After an early break and chip by # 11 Nona of View was diffused by the Shore #15 Gregory, Shore rumbled up the field to attack in View’s half. After good forward play the ball was spun wide for Shore #13 Sheehan to slice through and score between the posts. The extras were added by #12 Sinclair for Shore to lead 7-0.
Another break by Nona caused more strife for Shore but their defence held via a pilfered lineout to Shore’s #5 Suttor on his 5-metre line. There was some enterprising play by both teams for the rest of the half but neither could break through.
The best chances came late in the half as Shore parked inside the View 22 for a while but failed to capitalise. Then View countered from a turnover and #8 Fenn made a bust which gave them prime field position; but Shore repelled the raid.
Then Riverview returned serve when #13 Terry sliced through but he was nailed with a try-saving tackle from the Shore custodian, Gregory.
Half time score: Shore 7 – Riverview 0.
View came out with renewed vigour after oranges and attacked immediately, battering the Shore goal-line with their forwards. After only two minutes their #6 Rorke barged over to score. The conversion missed; so Shore still lead, 7-5.
Then both teams used the ball and launched raids in an entertaining period of play. Riverview had the first chance as #14 Smeallie broke down the Eastern flank but was nailed by Gregory, and a turnover ensued.
Both teams were tense and showed their desperation with scuffles, and Riverview lost a player to the bin.
The next ten minutes were telling for View. They lost Nona to injury, and soon afterwards Shore’s #11 Stinson pounced on a loose grubber to sprint from halfway down the eastern wing to score in the corner untouched. Sinclair added the extras from wide out for Shore to lead 14-5, but they lost #9 Grant to injury in the next passages of play.
Shore extended the lead with a Sinclair penalty to lead 17-5 with about ten minutes remaining, and the question on everyone’s lips was … could Shore hold on?
View threw everything at them but their day was probably summed up by the last play of the game as they knocked the ball on over the try-line. This is not to discount the Shore defence that was manful and the cornerstone of their effort.
Final score: Shore17 – Riverview 5.
Shore was ecstatic with the win and the scenes that followed the game at Northbridge resembled a Premiership celebration. It was a big boost to the Shore rugby program without a doubt.
Riverview will rue some poor decisions and ill-discipline at times which put them on the back foot, and will be appalled at losing four in a row. If they can get confidence from anything it should be from the number of chances they created, but needed only better finishing.
Courtesy of “Not in Straight” and “Rugby Purist”
#15 – Edward Gregory – superb last line defence thwarted View and kept the Shore boys on top.
#12 – Max Sinclair – excellent with the boot and pivotal in feeding his outside men whilst under pressure.
#9 – Will Haskins & #2 Ed Collard did a mountain of work in what was a team effort and many could have shared the points.
#6 – Charlie Rorke was always on the ball and made life difficult for his opponents
#11 – Malu Nona made the first few breaks of the game and looked dangerous before injured.
#8 – Michael Fenn was dangerous on the fringes and set up a number of View’s breaks.
Shore 17 (H. Sheehan, J. Stinson tries; M. Sinclair 2 cons, pen.) def. Riverview 5 (C. Rorke try)
Photos of Shore v Riverview courtesy of “Not in straight”
GPS 3rd XV Competition Round 5
Round 7 of the official GPS 3rd XV competition saw great conditions for attacking rugby, resulting in exciting, close-scoring affairs.
High v TAS
High fronted up well on defence early in the first half, forcing TAS into taking a penalty shot at goal after well over 15 minutes inside the High 22. However crucial errors led to two easy tries for winger Eddie Pitt in the second half, keeping the game out of High’s reach.
But a deft move from the back of the scrum gave High the last laugh, with #9 Archie Fox scoring on the bell.
Final Score: TAS 20 – High 5
The win guarantees TAS a premiership for 2016.
St Josephs v Kings
Joeys kept themselves in title contention with two tries in each half and a solid defensive effort against Kings, which kept the Parramatta boys try-less.
Final Score: Joeys 22 – Kings 6
Shore v Riverview
Coming into the game relatively even, the final scoreline reflected the similar skill level of both sides.
Both teams will be disappointed not to have come away with the win.
Final Score: Shore 17 – Riverview 17
Newington v Scots
In front of a packed crowd at Johnson Oval, Newington put on their best attacking display all season against a strong Scots side. However Scots in the end were too clinical, running away with a comfortable victory on “Back to Newington” Day.
Final Score: Newington 13 – Scots 22
Ladder points – TAS 14*, SJC 10, SGS 8, TSC 8, TKS 6, SIC 5, SHORE 3, NC 2, SHS 0*
* yet to have their bye