Day 3 is usually an exciting one because it is the day that teams play pool opponents who are seeded closest to them. As part of that NSW I (seeded first in one pool) always plays Qld II (seeded second), and likewise Qld I always plays NSW II in the other pool.
Usually the higher seeded team wins, but there was a surprise today.
Combined States 24 — Western Australia 19
This was a cracker of a rugby match and all the lads should be proud of themselves for the rugby they produced.
WA ran into a strong northerly wind but it didn’t take long for them to get near the Combined goal line and be held up over it. From the scrum they made a couple of charges but then the ball got dished wide and 15. Jayden Mgamanu scored near the corner post. After seven minutes WA led 5-0.
There was a 20 minute arm wrestle after that but the Combined team got near the WA line and after some pick and goes winger Chris Miller ran around some WA lads to score.
WA had been pushing the envelope defending in their red zone and the ref issued a yellow card. As soon as the player went off, WA was cynical again and another bloke got marched. Two cards in the same minute !!!
Fortunately for WA there was a break for half-time to re-group. Neither team had converted their tries; so the score was tied at 5-5.
In the second half CS started infringing and 10.Tim Koiatu slotted two penalties for WA, but CS caught WA napping on the restart of the second one, regathered it and after some probing 12. Tom Molloy went over for Combined on his home ground. WA still led, but by only 11-10 early in the second half.
It was then Combined States’ turn to get a card for repeated infringements and with a man up WA pressed the CS line repeatedly and 11. Josh Willington scored in the corner. Nobody had converted a try yet in the wind ; so the score was 16-10 WA.
It looked like the Westerners would get the lollies but with 10 minutes remaining 11. Simon Kennewell went over for CS and flyhalf Adrian Delore kicked the first conversion of the game.
Combined States were ahead 17-16 – game on – but then Koiatu slotted a penalty for WA to retake the lead 19-17.
Then close to the end Delore rolled a long kick into touch for Combined, not far our from the WA line. WA bobbled the ball from the lineout, and at the bottom of a stack of bodies 13. Nili Fielea scored. Delore converted and Combined States won 24-19; what a match.
It was a great game of footie in which the Combined team was in front for only a few minutes, lost the lead, then won on the last play of the game.
For WA 5. Blake Phillips was dynamic again and 14. Isaiah Pedersen showed his speed and skill once more, including a chip and chase.
For Combined States12. Molloy was energetic and elusive, and 11. Kennewell (playing outside centre) had his best game of the week.
Victoria 32 — ACT 7
Victoria looked in good form and put on some sweeping moves before scoring two tries in the first half, and this was despite their holding the ball too long sometimes before releasing it..
With the score 13-0 at oranges ACT had to strike quickly but it was the Vics who scored five minutes in, and again at 23 minutes and 30 minutes. The ACT had some periods of command but they couldn’t score points. By comparison Victoria took most of their chances after the break, with the draw and pass of the backs being a feature.
It looked like a whitewash at 32-0 but ACT never gave up and scored their only try three minutes before the end of the match.
Although the Victorians played out of their skins and had too much class and experience, the Brumbies should have done better.
Victoria was impressive: their backrow was all over the pill and forwards as a group drove over and through the ball.
The ACT were putting out fires for most of the game and it was hard for individual players to shine but Victoria found reserve outside back Jordan Hope difficult to stop.
Victoria had many good players: captain and LHP Fereti Saage shifted a lot of ACT players out of the way, 10. Suaesi Iousa (playing fullback) had another top game and 23. Patola Toeta (playing flyhalf) launched the back line well.
Qld Red and NSW II marched onto the Riverview ground in what was a semi final match between two great rivals. Both teams looked in good shape but Qld were undoubtedly the favourites. The Reds started off strongly and after two minutes their hooker, Alex Mafi, crossed after a lineout drive..
The two teams continued to trade blows before NSW 10. Jack Clancy broke through the line after a good dummy, followed by a long ball to big winger Josh Mitchell , who scored in the corner. 9. Lussick slotted an excellent wide conversion in the windy conditions to make the score 7-5 at 17 minutes.
After a prolonged period of possession Lussick slotted a penalty just before half-time for NSW to lead 10-5 at the break.
NSW controlled possession well until Qid 11. Adrian Henley flew down the sideline looking destined to score before NSW winger Nick Clancy made an outstanding try-saver. But they were in the right real estate and after a NSW lineout throw was too long Qld got possession and eventually Mafi went over for his second try. After 10. Mitchell Third converted Qld were ahead 12-10 after six minutes.
Three minutes later 10. Joey Lussick kicked an excellent penalty goal into the wind for NSW to regain the lead 13-12.
But Qld got back up in the NSW half and 7. Brad Wilkin started some interplay where the ball beat the man. He finished it too by scoring a try. The conversion missed but Qld were ahead 17-13 with a quarter of the match to go.
This is when NSW rose to the occasion. Despite the annoying cry of QUEENSLANDER, the boys in blue hit their stride at the right time. The NSW pack powered through phase after phase before 8. Johnny Walker snuck his way through in a handy spot for a conversion, and NSW led 20-17 with eleven minutes left in the game.
The clincher came two minutes before time when Lussick crossed for the winning score.
It was a game Qld should have won but the NSW forwards won them the match – especially in the dying stages. I thought both backlines were off in attack compared the NSW 1s in the following game.
Joey Lussick had a great game to stake his claim for an Aus Schoolboys spot; his halves partner Jack Clancy did the same and was probably the best 10 of the day. Other NSW standouts were 13. Henry Hutchinson, 5. Ned Hannigan and 15 Nick Clancy, who will all be very close to Schoolboys’ selection.
For Qld: Mitch Third was fairly quiet and may struggle to make the Schoolboys side at the moment. Qld’s best were their 11. Adrian Henley, 1. Evander Guttenbeil, 6. Lolo Fakaosilea, 15. James Todd and 13. Landon Hayes, who was outstanding in defence.
NSW I 39 — Qld II 25 – by “Lee Grant”
NSW II had qualified for the final but would they be playing NSW I? The form guide suggested they would be, but Qld II were not going to make it easy.
Qld started the scoring not long after the kick-off when they swept into the NSW half and 11. Pedro Ikitau palmed off his direct opponent 14. Harry Jones and scored. Colour Harry mortified.
After a penalty goal Qld were ahead 8-0 in as many minutes.
But 20 minutes in, 13. Taane Milne, one of the form players of the tournament, scored a try to open the scoring for NSW, then straight from the restart Harry Jones made amends for his early gaffe by making a break and passing inside for 7. Jack McCalman to score. NSW had taken the lead 12-8.
14 Andrew Kellaway scored a try in one corner of the field and then Harry Jones scored with a brilliant individual effort in the other. Guess who he palmed off to score that one? The same bloke who fended him off at the the start of the game.
Qld II had scored just one penalty goal since the 8 minute mark, which made the score 24-11 to NSW at half-time.
Surely Qld would keep to the script and fade in the second half? Not hardly. They scored a try too easily not long after the break when impressive 9. Moses Sorovi sniped over from a scrum for Qld to be behind by just six points at 18-24.
But that’s as close as they got. After having a bumbling third quarter of the game NSW scored three tries to one in the fourth to win 39-25.
NSW had too much class for the Qld Twos and even though took a while for them to recover from a poor period after oranges, they could always rely on their stars Jones, Kellaway and Milne to provide some spark when it was needed.
11. Ikitau, perhaps the fastest player in the tournament, was always exciting to watch and the easy goal kicking style of 15. Joshua Bowyer-Bowen was a study in elegance. Livewire 9. Sorovi was the best of the others.
For NSW Jones made up for his opening blunder and had a terrific game as did 13. Taane Milne who always seemed to break the first tackle. Kellaway had another match where he made long gains even though he seemed to be playing with only one good leg in the second half.
On Saturday 6th July, NSW I will play NSW II for first place, Qld I will play Qld II for third place, Combined States will play Victoria for fifth place and Western Australia will play the ACT for seventh place.
Bring it on.