Round 1 started on Saturday on a bleak Sydney day that tested spectators but the boys warmed to their task and produced some good rugby despite the conditions.
Trinity 40 — Waverley 23
Trinity and Waverley opened their 2014 campaigns on a wintry afternoon at Summer Hill.
Waverley had first use of a swirling wind that made life unpleasant for the spectators.
From the kick-off, both sides aimed to get the ball wide. Throughout the match, there was little kicking in either attack or defence and the fact that both teams tried to keep the ball in hand meant that, while the game was short on technical merit, it was always interesting to watch.
There were some fundamental errors that would have frustrated the coaches. When Waverley won a penalty, 15 Dion Narayin kicked for touch, only to send the ball over the dead ball line; two minutes later, Trinity’s 13 Justin Fish missed touch with his kick from a penalty.
But Trinity regained possession and 4 Pernell Filipo made a good run (selling a dummy in the process). He was another player who held on too long, eventually spilling the ball forward in the tackle. However Trinity won the tight-head scrum, and Siteine drifted across field before firing a short pass to Barkley-Brown on the burst. He went in under the posts, and Fish converted: 7-0 Trinity after 15 minutes.
Both sides exchanged attack and counter-attack, and Paterson made a surging run upfield that was ended only by a courageous front-on tackle by Barkley-Brown. The tackler then made another incisive run, and this time he found 7. William Davies in support for a try by the posts. Fish converted again, and after 22 minutes it was 14-0.
Waverley’s Dion Narayin had an indifferent time with the boot, putting the kick off out on the full and then soon afterwards missing a 47 metre shot for penalty goal. But Waverley 4 Will Carr made a powerful, determined run, beating several defenders before Barkley-Brown hauled him down. From the next phase, the ball went wide and 9 Fred Giutronich went over in the corner. 14-5, but despite its lead Trinity was in disarray.
Barkley-Brown’s tackle on Carr was ruled dangerous, and he was yellow-carded, while 13 Fish (who had shown some neat touches with the ball in hand) was taken off with a dislocated shoulder. Trinity 1 Harry McLennan showed exceptional speed in a punishing 30-metre run, but a few moments later, Trinity 8 James Wayland was yellow-carded – for use of the boot – which presumably the referee thought was careless rather than deliberate.
Now Waverley had a two-man advantage, and a weakened defence couldn’t contain Paterson, who crashed over near the posts. Narayin converted and at half time it was 14-12 to Trinity. Giutronich had actually crossed again for Waverley, but in the process gave away a penalty for obstruction, so no try was awarded.
Narayin landed a penalty soon after the break, so Waverley hit the lead—but lost 5 Justin Cooper, who hobbled off injured. McLennan helped to nullify Waverley’s numerical advantage with some ferocious tackling.
With Barkley-Brown back from the bin, Trinity attacked again and 6 George Corias strolled through two limp tackles to score from close range. Ryan Longville’s goal put Trinity in the lead by 21-15.
Minutes later, the hard-working Will Carr rumbled over from close in to close the gap to a single point. Almost immediately, Trinity retaliated, with 9 Angus Humphreys producing a neat inside pass to put Wayland in to score. Longville converted: 28-20.
The game was now almost completely unstructured, with porous defences and disjointed attacks. Trinity’s Wayland caught a badly sliced clearing kick about 45 metres out, and with most of Waverley’s players offside, he charged close to the line. After he was pulled down, the ball was spun wide for 14 Will Blake to score. Longville converted from touch: 35-20.
Paterson never stopped working, and made another long run which faltered for want of support. Siteine replied with a long run of his own, which resulted in a substitute back scoring in the corner: 40-20.
The game became increasingly scrappy, with numerous substitutions on both teams; in the final minute McLennan was yellow-carded for a fairly innocuous tackle (that did involve an element of lifting), and after the penalty Waverley landed a consolation field goal. So it ended up 40-23.
Waverley has been in the Associated Schools competition for 70 years now, and this is only the second time its 1st XV has allowed Trinity to score 40 points. Waverley teams never give up, and this one was no exception, but it has obvious technical weaknesses and a lack of speed in the backs.
Trinity won’t celebrate too much; this was a scrappy performance, and there’s a lot of tightening up to be done if they’re to upset the stronger schools. They won’t win many more games in which they earn three yellow cards.
As a general observation, both sides need to sharpen their skills and tighten their defences. They may also struggle against bigger packs; it was noticeable that Trinity’s 9, Angus Humphreys, was taller than most of his forwards, while Waverley’s 10, Paterson, was bigger than most of his pack.
Incidentally, from down by the sideline, the amount of heckling of the referee from both benches was extraordinary. A more thin-skinned official might have reacted to it.
There was a distinct contrast in the approach taken by the opposing fly-halves. For Waverley, Henry Paterson stood close to the gain line and usually took on the defence himself. He broke the line on countless occasions, but doesn’t have the pace himself to finish off most of his breaks, and a general lack of speed in the Waverley side meant that he was rarely able to offload to a support.
Trinity’s Robert Siteine generally stood deep and static in attack, acting as a pivot to spin the ball wide. Both sides bombed several scoring opportunities when a player who breached the defence held on to the ball for too long, the first example coming after five minutes when Trinity 15 Rihann Barkley-Brown made a slashing break that would have produced a try had he been able to link with his winger.
Trinity — 1. Harry McLennan was the player of the match. He anchored a good scrum, ran powerfully, and tackled superbly. His mobility and workrate were exceptional. 2 Anthony Nguyen was strong, mobile and busy. 5 Liam Rasch had a great game, dominating the line out and getting around the field well. 12 Nathaniel Saofia had a strong game, running hard, but is no speedster, and often the ball died with him when he might have passed.
The back-rowers, Corias, Wayland and Davies, were hard-working and aggressive. 15 Barkley-Brown was fast and elusive in attack and courageous (and, apart from his yellow card, technically good) in defence.
Waverley — depended very heavily on Paterson, who broke the defensive line almost at will. 12 Jordan Bracewell tried hard throughout the game, and 15 Dion Narayin worked hard to spark the attack on occasions. Otherwise, the best contributors for Waverley were in the forwards: Will Carr had an excellent game, as did 6 Eamon Wright, who was seldom far from the ball and made some strong runs. 2 Arthur McKenna did some excellent work in defence.
Trinity — 40 ( G Corias, W Davies, J Wayland, W Blake, R Barkley-Brown tries: R Longville 3 goals, J Fish 3 Pens )
Waverley — 20 (W Picone F Giutronich, H Paterson tries: D Narayangoal goal, pen, )
2nd XV: Waverley 23 — Trinity 0
16As: Waverley 26 — Trinity 0
Click on right arrow for report on Knox v. Baker