1st XV Rugby - SPC d Trinity (22/7)
author: Mike Silcock
St. Patrick’s College 1st XV vs. Trinity Grammar (H) (22/07)
Full time: 36 – 19 (HT 19-5)
Try scorers: Inoke Siola’a (2), Ola Tauelangi, Chris Tuitea, Will Harrison, Ethan Jessop
Conversions: Pou Siola’a (3/5), Chris Tuitea (0/1)
5 – Chris Tuitea 4 – Ola Tauelangi 3 – Ethan Jessop 2 – Pou Siola’a 1 – Inoke Siola’a
Did the game on Saturday mark a slow end to this season, that has ultimately seen us miss Finals, or is it the first game, in a new season, that marks the start of a genuine charge to a Premiership in 2018. Honestly, I think it is a little of both.
For our Yr12 players it was the last official home game of their school rugby careers. For our younger members of the side it was an opportunity to show the competition, led by an unbeaten Trinity Grammar, what they are capable of.
Arguably every game has that potential, however after consecutive defeats to Brighton, Melbourne and Geelong, which saw us miss finals for the first time in three years, questions were raised about the mental aptitude of the playing group.
There is significant playing (on field) talent, however at critical points in previous games we lacked mental fortitude, maybe even belief, which is possibly to be expected, yet needed to be addressed.
Trinity were unbeaten and coming off holiday practice games to maintain their impressive start to the season.
I am able to say “were” on account of an outstanding performance by our players.
Playing for our Yr12s, playing for those who questioned their capabilities, playing for an element of pride and, on this occasion, playing for my late stepfather, the boys were sensational.
The game was not without its errors, lapses of concentration, poor play, however these were overwhelmingly outmatched by both the physical and mental strength that each player showed.
Weather conditions were a-typical Ballarat – which we most certainly welcomed.
Nothing was going to dampen or quash the desire that each showed with an emotional minute’s silence held at the start of the game. I would personally like to thank the Trinity players, our players and our spectators for the wonderful gesture they showed. The opening exchanges saw committed interplay by both sides with little end result, however the deadlock was broken by inspirational captain Inoke Siola’a, after multiple phases saw the home side camped on the opposition try line. Trinity had their share of possession throughout the game, even in the first half, however resolute defence and careful possession on attack left the away side with little to play with. Ultimately the first half should have been more convincing by SPC, however a 19-5 advantage was a fair reflection.
The second half was a tale of two ‘halves’. A mistake from the kick off set off a series of errors and ill-discipline that has been too familiar in our season. It also saw Trinity level proceedings – and gain valuable momentum.
A spectator later observed to me that it is in this situation that all too often the team with the momentum goes on to win the encounter – however, on this day, that was not the case.
The tenacity, brilliance and sustained pressure of our 1stXV led by strong running forwards, Ola Tauelangi and Inoke Siola’a, guided brilliantly by playmaker Pou Siola’a and supported by incisive running by outside backs Chris Tuitea and Ethan Jessop, provided a final quarter that will live long in this season’s history.
The mental strength, lacking before, was evident in abundance as we scored an unanswered 17 points, all of which came from our ability and discipline to retain possession.
This incredible result, the hard work and effort of so many, has led to a number of people saying “if only” and “what if”.
I would agree – on our day we have shown this season that we can beat the best.
So, moving forward, we must finish this season with three strong wins, which would guarantee 5th spot, and springboard us into a genuine title contending season next year. There will need to be plenty of mental fortitude shown along the way, however Saturday showed just what this side is capable of.
A special occasion – a special result. Thank you to all who made it so.