2019 1st XV rugby - SPC v Marcellin
author: Mike Silcock
St Patrick’s College 1st XV vs Marcellin College (A)
Full time: 32 – 22 (HT 15-0)
Try scorers: Ethan Jessop (2), Kenny O’Connor, Owen Pearse
Conversions: Hayce Alama (3/4)
Penalties: Hayce Alama (2/2)
There had been a significant amount of heartache upon the final whistle of the 2018 VSRU Grand Final, however it unfairly masked what had been an outstanding season across our rugby program. Perhaps most poignantly it turned the focus away from a pivotal highlight of last season and that was the presence and success of our 2ndXV and U15s.
Twelve of last year’s starting Grand Final side left the College at the end of last year so an almost total rebuild was required for this year. This has been possible due to the quality of those coming out of our 2018 U15 and 2ndXV teams. Our preseason has been disjointed and certainly not ideal. Three preseason games had been organised, all three were ultimately cancelled due to our opponents being unable to field a side. Our opponents in this Round 1 encounter were Marcellin College, a side with whom we have history and a competitive rivalry. Their preseason had included a successful tour of Queensland and many of their side, who we defeated in last year’s VSRU Semi Final were returning. It had the makings of a classic and those in attendance did not leave disappointed.
Despite our less than perfect preseason we scored the first points of the game from the kick off. After clean ball retention our back line was unleashed.
New captain, Ethan Jessop, made one of his trademark bulldozing runs before a deft offload released fullback, Kenny O’Connor, into the back field. Kenny showed speed, agility and power to round both the blind winger and his fullback counterpart to score on debut. Kenny has looked sharp throughout preseason training and if this score is anything to go by he should have an excellent season.
Young flyhalf, Hayce Alama, converted to give us a 7-0 lead.
The following passages of play were somewhat of an arm wrestle. Some resolute goal line defence by both teams was commendable, however possession and territory were largely in our favour. The lack of preseason games was probably telling as we were unable to convert these advantages to score board pressure, however, after Marcellin’s backline conceded a penalty in front of the posts for offside, Hayce was able to add to our lead (10-0).
Young winger, Owen Pearse, a versatile player also making his 1stXV debut, was able to score his first try of the season after the opposition’s flyhalf knocked on from great defensive pressure, but inexplicably kicked it to Owen who showed great aplomb to dot down for a try. The resultant conversion was missed, leaving us with a 15-0 lead at the halftime.
The second half was a classic ‘end to end’ encounter. It was enjoyable to watch, for although we made basic errors to allow our opponents opportunities to gain valuable field position, which they would convert into points, the experience was critical to the development of our team.
Rolling substitutions saw many players have the opportunity to positively impact the game and showed the depth that we have.
With a bye this coming Saturday we will have the perfect opportunity to refine aspects of our game that this second half highlighted. Our defensive shape off phase ball was naïve and, as we tired, our physicality in defence began to fall off. Nevertheless as Marcellin created score board pressure our boys responded in kind. Ethan was outstanding in both defence and attack, making significant tackles to prevent our opponents getting continuity and scoring his second try from a lovely, deft kick from his centre partner, Ata Seu.
On the final whistle we had won 32-22. Marcellin will be a top four side this year, so to come to their home and win in Round 1 was a significant result.
I would like to extend a particular offer of congratulations to all those who made their debuts and highlight the influential performances of Vice Captain, Jonny DeBono and No.8 Koni Wolfgramm. Our next game is a Grand Final rematch against St Kevin’s College who opened their account with a win against Geelong Grammar. This will be our first home match of the season and should be an absolute belter.
Photos from the match can be seen at:https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=oa.2151380384961248&type=3