With only two rounds to go in the CAS competition for the Henry Plume Shield, Barker had to win against Trinity, and Waverley against Aloys, to make their match next week a Grand Final.
But as Elfster reports: there was another match – at Cranbrook
Knox 25 — Cranbrook 14
On a glorious winter’s day, I popped out to Rose Bay to see Cranbrook take on Knox. Cranbrook’s oval has a more suburban ground feel to it than other places , with the spectators on the sidelines close to the action. The playing surface looked excellent, auguring well for a good game of Rugby. It would be interesting to see the development of these two teams. Based on the closeness of the early encounter at Knox, and with the return of injured players, a home victory to Cranbrook was definitely attainable.
From kick-off Cranbrook played with an aggressive intensity. Cranbrook took it to Knox using their forwards to good effect. Knox similarly kept the ball tight, resulting in a tense arm-wrestle. Backline moves were stifled by good defence and handling issues. It was a game where a side had either possession or territory.
After about ten minutes, Knox, with possession but deep in their own territory, kicked down-field. The Cranbrook 15 S Renton went for a gallop, slipped a few tackles, joined his mates and with neat passing and backing-up saw a spectacular try to the Cranbrook 9 A McDougall. Converted by 15 S Renton.
Cranbrook lead 7 nil. The ground was alive with the sounds of Cranbrook spectators.There was an anticipatory buzz around the field and Cranbrook was on a high.
However the try didn’t break the spirit of Knox. Winning a scrum from the kick-off , the ball went along the backline to the 14 L Price. With speed and power he brushed off a winger, went over the fullback and scored. The unconverted try lifted Knox, allowing them more territorially useful possession and their backline showed increased cohesion and direction.
Knox then scored their own impressive (uncoverted) try, starting deep from their half, finished by a rampaging C Watson. Both sides were playing expansive games, but Knox had momentum and lead 10 – 7 at half time.
Second half –Though ascendant Knox couldn’t be complacent as Cranbrook were showing heart and their forwards were working well. Their scrum was shading that of Knox and they were effectively disrupting the Knox line-out.
Cranbrook‘s defence was effective but too often they were offside and gave away needless penalties. For Knox, H Newby 12 was more judicious in his passing or running this week. J Paek’s try (11) was the result of Newby making a break, quick passing setting up a fine winger’s try. Knox 15 – 7.
Both sides kept the ball alive, exchanging hits in the forwards. This soon led to a bit of ‘push and shove’ amongst many of the players. The fracas was studiously ignored by the referee, who carried on with the game. The ‘fight’ ended when players realised they needed to play rugby which was quite amusing. One of the best opportunities early in the second half for Cranbrook was when the Knox players were otherwise occupied.
The Knox forwards were weaker in the set pieces but were effective in the loose winning scrums at critical times from mauls to get possession.
Knox scored a long range try to L Price who chased down a kick from the Knox 10, H Leaver. Converted, Knox lead 22 – 7. A penalty to Knox saw the score go to 25 – 7 late in the game.
Cranbrook playing with determination and heart, kept badgering away to score a converted try to winger O de Lorenzo, but Knox won 25 – 14.
On paper the Knox 1sts and 2nds won fairly easily. I thought the games would be closer with even Cranbrook winning the 1sts. Though Cranbrook play with spirit they lack something in attack. It may be confidence, I am not sure, but they showed when keeping the ball alive they are dangerous.
The Knox backline was more effective and efficient. Cranbrook tried to batter Knox in the forwards, and while partially effective weren’t sufficiently dominant to be successful. The defence of Knox is much better than early season, though their lineout is a bit of a concern as is their goal kicking.
Cranbrook — 15 S Renton ran the ball back well and was dangerous in attack. 5 H Summerhayes was a powerful workhorse and a standout. He was well complemented by 6 N Makas. Their forward pack was cohesive and well drilled.
Knox — The 10-12-13 combination (Leaver, Newby & Watson) was impressive. Their handling was good and they were always dangerous. This allowed wingers Price and Paek space and ball to show their abilities.The hooker L Scott was a busy play as was 8 B Van Zyl.
Injuries. Two players left the field with injuries in the 2nd half. The Cranbrook 13 C Wylie and Knox 10 H Leaver. The Knox injury looked more serious.
Not a game of outstanding quality, but entertaining and enthralling in its own way.
Knox 25 — L Price (2), C Watson, J Paek tries. S Field 1 conversion, 1 penalty goal.
Cranbrook 14 — A McDougall, O de Lorenzo tries. S Renton 2 conversions
SeePage 2 for “match on the run” reports on Aloys v Waverley and Barker v Trinity