Queensland GPS R4: Contenders Toppled

Queensland GPS R4: Contenders Toppled

Toowoomba Grammar School at Churchie (33-31)

The Sage

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“They said they’d never make it”, but the boys from the range weren’t listening to the pundits as they eked out a 33-31 win over their more fancied Churchie rivals (ACGS). There was a fair sized crowd at East Brisbane on a wonderful winter’s day to watch if Churchie were going to be real contenders and step forward for the title this year.

First half

The first scoring opportunity occurred in the third minute after a TGS mistake part way between their 10m and 22m. From the scrum Churchie were able to string together seven pick n drive phases before some traction and a nice run by the Churchie #15 Frazer Suffren took them to within 5m from the TGS line. A “fumbley” pass was gathered by the #10 before he switched the ball back inside to the ever present #12 Su’a who fended two “would be” tacklers to score adjust to the posts. The conversion was successful and gave Churchie an early 7-0 lead.

The change of possession soon after the kick-off came from an error from the try scorer and TGS spent the next 6-8 or so minutes camped in the Churchie red zone. There were a number of good forward runs from the TGS #1, #6 and #8 to push the TGS claim closer; Churchie were constantly infringing the ruck with the referee “barking” advantage at every carry, but they were able to quell the advance.

When the ball finally came Churchie way they were unable to clear the 22 with a kick and this provided the opportunity for the TGS #15 whom had already made a couple of jinking runs and put Churchie back defending inside their 22 m. Four phases later the TGS backline made three draw and passes which located the #15 for TGS outside his opposite number and a clean pair of heals to score. The conversion was successful and after 13 minutes of play it was all tied up at 7 apiece.

For the next 5 minutes the play and possession was maintained between the 22 m lines, with a couple of nice runs; one of note from the Churchie #13 but he was stopped just short of the line and a penalty relieved the pressure for TGS. The forward packs were fairly evenly matched with line outs, scrums and rucks going the way of the possession holder.

However the Churchie scrum was a little more dominant and on more than one occasion had the TGS pack edging back. This could have been off-putting for a number of backlines, but provided the next opportunity for TGS as the Churchie backs in their eagerness “overran” the play and allowed #10 Watson to make a break which landed TGS inside the 22m. The ruck saw a pass to #1 Harry Hoopert and then onto #15 who crossed over in the corner. The conversion was successful and after 19 minutes it was 14-7 to TGS.

TGS dominated the next period of play and made the vantage line on just about every carry. Churchie were stuck in a tackle-a-thon with no way out. This lead to really good retention of possession for TGS and lead to a snipping run on the blind, by that man again #15, and another try in the corner. Another good conversion made it 21-7 to TGS after 25 minutes.

Churchie had to be the next to score as this game was starting to run from their grasp. As luck would have it the kick-off was fumbled and possession returned to Churchie. From a penalty and good lineout win (Churchie #6) the ball with looping pass the Churchie #10 Croft was able to allude and slip through the tiniest of holes to score. The conversion was successful giving a score of 21-14 to TGS in the thirtieth minute.

Churchie would of have been happy with this score line, given their limited possession, and how TGS was playing. However, another failure to clear their line, another offside and the penalty push Churchie back again. The lineout was won, a well structured forward moving maul and the #6 scored TGS’s fourth try of the half. The conversion was unsuccessful and left the score at 26-14 TGS way. Churchie had one more chance due to a dropped ball but were unable to convert the opportunity.

HT: ACGS 14 TGS 26. TGS had control of this game and the weight of possession and their ability to convert this into points was going to make a win for Churchie hard.

Second half

The second half found both teams “upping the tempo” somewhat and TGS through controlling the ball and penalties found themselves deep in attack again early in the second half. However a dropped ball right on the line stopped the movement and started the change in momentum back to Churchie. Churchie were able to retain possession and poor line speed and marking allowed a very “fleet-footed” #13 Stanghon to beat the line, run 40 m where he dished the ball off to a very willing #12 Su’a to run 20m to score. The conversion was successful and the score line after 6 minutes was Churchie 21 TGS 26.

Again Churchie indiscretions, both offside and at the ruck, were providing TGS the opportunities at critical points in the game. And so it was in the 9th minute when a penalty given for not rolling-away was kicked to the corner and from the ensuing lineout and ruck the TGS #9 was to cut-out pass to the ever present #15 for a try in the corner. The conversion was successful and had TGS out to 33 points to Churchie’s 21 after 11 minutes.

It was from this point that Churchie started to string a number of meaningful possessions after what must of seemed an eternity of defending to date. From the kick-off they retained possession within forward (rucking) and found themselves with room and a snipping run from the #10 to beat the forwards in defense and scoring in a handy position midway between the posts and the sideline. However the conversion was missed and left the score at TGS 33 Churchie 26 in the 15th minute.

An error by TGS from the kick-off made the Churchie momentum and self-belief grow further; a very dangerous sign for any opposition! The Churchie scrum was becoming more dominant and a turn-over at the TGS scrum base may have shifted the momentum back to Churchie, but it didn’t. The game entered a phase of repeated attacks and counter-attacks in which no one team was able to gain the upper hand with errors stifling any progress in the score.

This phase of the game lasted for some 11 minutes until a scrum for Churchie on the TGS 10m line. This provided an opportunity for some interplay between the Churchie #9 and #10 (the #10 was halfback for the move) with Su’a a decoy allowed for the #10 to outpace the defense, who were “man watching” and run 40m and only be held up 3m out. Then Churchie cranked it up with their traditional pick n drive and in almost no time at all they were OVER! The conversion was missed and the score was TGS 33 Churchie 31. What a final 10 minutes was in store for the good sized crowd.

Errors once again started to creep into the TGS backline and Churchie was willing to take full advantage, with yet another 45m run by #10 Croft which landed him over the line but unable to control the ball. NO TRY! scrum. Churchie had “all hands on deck” and TGS were in for a torrid time in defense. Churchie were held up a number of times (#8 Wallis twice within a minute), but TGS were determined to hold-on. A penalty in the last minute inside the 22 could have provided for the win, however, Churchie opted for a scrum. Time after time they raided the TGS line, and time after time they were repelled. In the end time won out and Churchie faced their first defeat of the season. A wonderful game of schoolboy rugby all round.

Full-time score: Churchie 31 – TGS 33

The Players

Best for their teams

Churchie: #3, #6, #8, #10, #12, #13 & #15. The best was Croft whom kept Churchie in the game for longer than their controlled possession would have normally allowed.

TGS: #1, #2, #5, #7, #8, #9, #10 & #15. Hard for this one, Harry Hoopert had a great game, whilst #10 Watson was also instrumental however the man of the match performance #15. He just wanted to be where the ball was all day, he defended well and ran the ball with speed and purpose.

The wrap-up

Toowoomba in the end probably deserved to win today’s game; with the weight of possession and control they created some good team tries. That said, Chuirchie also had their opportunities but I felt untimely indiscretions and some lack of patience in attack, particularly in the last 10 minutes may have cost them. It was a credit to Churchie’s tenacity in the second half performance that they made the game so close after a 12 point deficit in the first.

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Nic is a freelance journalist who first tried his hand writing for Green & Gold Rugby as a schoolboy. Five years on, Nic is our resident expert on Brisbane’s local rugby scene not named RugbyReg. In April 2018 Nic releases his first book, the official biography of Waisale Serevi entitled 'Waisale Serevi: The King of Sevens'.

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