The CAS competition finished last weekend and the outcome was unexpectedly tight.
“Elfster” reviews the season and gives his appraisal of the six teams, nominates their best players, and gives his outlook for 2014
Barker retained the premiership by being a class above other sides. They were a well balanced team: potent in attack, good in defence and very fit.
Waverley did enough and ensured that the final result was not known until the final round. Playing Waverley is always hard; playing them at Queen’s Park terribly so. They performed with an edgy uncertainty and often turned defence into attack, with devastating results.
The renaissance that Cranbrook had hoped for after their success in last year’s 16s, wasn’t reflected in the final position of the 1sts, but it improved their depth.
Aloysius didn’t have the numbers to make a big impact this year. They were heavily dependent on a few excellent players, but could be worn down during the game. However they played with spirit and were dangerous at times.
Trinity had a solid year and should be pleased. They may have won a game or two they should have lost, but the reverse was also true. Their general play and structure were sound, but they need more depth to achieve a higher finish next year.
Knox had a new coach and apparently a new approach to rugby this yea,r but they would have been disappointed with their season. They occasionally showed what could have been, but lost momentum too often. Injuries were also a concern.
They are a young side and we may see more of their qualities next year.
Barker was a standout side—it was fit, well balanced, had good combinations and some potent try-scoring players. Some of their backline play was sublime and good to watch. They also played a smart style of rugby, limiting errors and taking points when available. Their superior fitness allowed them to gain initiative at will..
Though very good in attack, their defence was also strong. Their strength was in their backs, and though their forwards may not have been as strong as other sides, rarely did they allow themselves to be dominated.
My top three players: H Jones, T Davis, D Stoltz
Waverley played their traditional style of being hard and uncompromising. Their strength was based on a strong and well-drilled forward pack, and the backs had the capacity to take what was on offer and run with it.
This team could score some good long distance tries., yet they committed to defence as much as they did to attack.
They did have a tendency to leak penalties. That disrupted their play, but with Waverley penalties are a given. One of the reasons they are dangerous is their willingness to play to the limit.
Their greatness weakness was in their depth: when injuries occurred quality back-up was lacking.
My top three players: N Koutsoukis, B O’Donnell, T Duffy
This year’s Trinity team was based around a big powerful forward pack and some incisive runners in the backs. I felt that Trinity seemed a little confused side at times. They would be playing well and heading towards a victory when they would lose momentum or confidence and allow the other side to get back into it.
I felt that this Trinty side was possibly stronger and more dangerous in unstructured play than from set pieces. One area where they would have been disappointed in was their defence. Like some of the other schools, their depth in some positions was weak.
My top three players R Barkley-Brown, G Corias, B Whicker
Knox was inconsistent and at times seemed lethargic and uncertain of how they wanted to play. They often overcomplicated things, trying too hard when simplicity would have been better. They probably showed more improvement in the season than any other team, but were frustrating because they often showed glimpses of what could have been.
They ran the ball more than previous Knox sides, but their defence was weaker. Their forwards were strong and I think the backline could develop into a potent attacking unit.
Knox was a young side that was hampered by inconsistency and lapses.
My top three players: B Van Zyl, C Watson, J Paek
Cranbrook was solid but lacked sufficient flair to match pre-season expectations. Early season injuries disrupted the side and then they struggled to be effective.
However they were a well-drilled team and their good spirit made victories against them difficult to get.
There was reasonable strength in their forwards but their main weakness was in not scoring enough points. I am not sure why that was because they could put the ball through the hands when they wanted to score some good tries. They should have been more adventurous and let let the ball sing more.
Though they finished low on the table I get the feeling that rugby at Cranbrook is improving and we will see good things from them in the future.
My top three players: H Summerhayes, N Makas, O de Lorenzo
Aloys played with considerable heart and spirit, but injuries and a lack of depth meant that it would be a long season for them.
They had some good players, but the forwards were out-muscled too frequently and opponents would wear them down and run away with it. They played with spirit and adventure, would always try things and executed well.
Aloys could put on some well constructed tries as well as cheeky little gems that split the best defences. If the result against Aloys was a certainty the final score wasn’t, and games were often in doubt until near the end.
Credit must be given to them as they were good side to watch and played rugby in the true sense of the game.
My top three players: D Goodearl, H Williams, R Vevers
In the U16s, the sides south of the harbour prevailed, so the shield may leave the North Shore next season.
I think the comp will be closer than this year. Barker, with their depth and strength in the opens, will remain competitive, but not be as dominant. Cranbrook will improve and should be one to watch. Knox had a fair few young players in their 1sts, and their 16s were strong so they should be better.