They had a season to forget. They had some good players in prop Anstey and 5/8 Thompson, who were both selected in the CAS 1sts, and no. 8 Pursell performed well. Yet the team lacked size, consistency and perhaps confidence.
They could grab early leads but couldn’t maintain consistency over the full game. They did try to play an expansive game, with Thompson having the ability to get players in space, but I saw many of their attacking runs come to naught as handling let them down.
With one or two stronger players their season might have been different. It may have been one of those years for Barker rugby, but I noticed that the number of teams playing was down from recent times.
Last year’s champions had a season to regret. For most of the season they didn’t have a settled side with players missing for various reasons. This showed in their results when they were winless after five games.
However their second half indicated what could have been. They had strong forwards and willing backs. They also were well coached and were reminiscent of last year’s side in doing the basics right.
They lacked a bit of spark in attack, but in the end were given good direction by F. Stenmark. They had two of the better props in the competition Hill and Rathie, and W. Stenmark was a solid second rower.
They will wonder where there season went, but though they finished at the wrong end of the ladder, this team proved that the revival of Cranbrook rugby is not dead.
One curious aspect of this side was the relative strength of their seconds – I was surprised why some of those players weren’t in the firsts.
A tough and able side that unfortunately lacked consistency, depth and a bit of flair. On their day and at full strength they could threaten any side.
Their no. 8 McClennan was a powerhouse and was at the centre of their attack; but if you could contain him, you could also often contain Trinity. There was some speed in the backs and Longville (15) was always a threat. Siteine (10) could be unpredictable and elusive in attack, but they, too, were inconsistent.
Too often they played like a team of individuals – with flashes of brilliance that were too individual and not supported. There is some young talent in the side so next year they may be may be more dependable.
A youngish and talented side that played with flair and flamboyance. Perhaps at times too much, as they could get distracted and lose discipline.
Waverley played with spirit but tended to lose their way against sides that were well-structured and patient. They seemed to have a greater chance of scoring a try from 60 metres out from broken play, than from five metres using grafting rugby.
They played with spirit and could be a delight to watch in how they could throw the ball around, but they were too erratic and were short of powerful forwards.
Generally everyone’s second favourite side for the way they play. No one can begrudge their second placing.
Like most Aloys’ sides they had tigerish forwards and good backs. They had one of the best backlines in the competiton and were more than willing to use it to its potential. Their forwards were always willing, but lacked the power and size to fully complement the backs.
Some injuries to key players didn’t help. They were side closest to beating Knox, in a game where their unwillingness to give up shone through. But against big, professional and patient sides that is, unfortunately, not enough.
In the end the best team by a long way. A very well balanced side, that were well led and coached.
Knox won the competition in a clinical and professional manner. They were also blessed with some of the best players in the CAS, and definitely had the biggest pack.
They developed through the season, especially with their scrum, and more than matched any other CAS team in that area in the last few games. They were methodical. There were always players running in support and each player knew what to do.
That said, the creativity wasn’t coached out of them. They just had discipline and application to use their creativity and flamboyance to effect. They seemed to cop a fair few penalties, but that didn’t faze them.
They played at a higher level and for over greater periods of a game during the comp than any other side, and were well-deserved winners.
The CAS Rugby season was entertaining and interesting. Though the Rugby was occasionally not of the highest standard, most games were good to watch and played in the right spirit.
Schoolboy rugby can vary from season to season. Barker finished last this year, but could easily win in the next few. Cranbrook and Aloys are no longer easy-beats and Trinity had three players in the CAS 1sts.
Knox has spent some effort to reinvigorate its rugby. A few years ago the numbers were dropping and success at the 1st XV level disappointing. Their current programme is to be admired, but one wonders how other sides will compete in the long term.
In terms of representative rugby, the CAS did poorly in 2015. Perhaps it was just an off year, as I am not certain how this Knox side would compete against the Cranbrook side of 2014.
But that is one of the joys of schoolboy rugby: each new year brings new teams, challenges and surprises.
Click on Page 3 below for the CAS Team of the Year and other awards.