Rugby: SPC 1st XV defeats Haileybury
author: Mike Silcock
St Patrick’s College 1st XV vs Haileybury College (A) (29/04)
Full time: 44 – 17 (HT 16-3)
Try scorers: Ola Tauelangi, Eddie Sauvao, Josh Cooper, Isaac Roberts, Inoke Siola’a
Conversions: Pou Siola’a (5/5)
Penalties: Pou Siola’a (3/3)
5 – Inoke Siola’a 4 – Josh Cooper 3 – Ola Tauelangi 2 – Pou Siola’a 1 – Eddie Sauvao
Round (1), new season and a real sense of excitement amongst the 1st playing group. A solid performance against St Kevin’s in our recent EREA fixture, a hard fought win against friendly ‘foe’ in Melton Rugby Club and an exhibition training session with our College junior players were highlights of a very strategic preseason. In the VSRU ‘world’ we appear to be ‘flying under the radar’ a position that we are happy to embrace. Haileybury had moved into Division I this season, had a new coaching team and were eager to test themselves in the top flight. All was set for a great encounter – and both sides did not disappoint.
The first half was somewhat of a careful ‘battle’ of attrition. Haileybury were keen to play the game from within our half, however lacked the polish to retain the possession. We looked to pressurise our opponents at every opportunity and, when we had ball in hand, keenly support one another to make inroads, however pushed unnecessary passes and also lacked the set piece polish to bring deserved points for the amount of possession we had. Ultimately it was a clever scrum move, well executed by number 8 Ola Tauelangi and half Eddie Sauvao who combined for the first try of the season. With impeccable kicking from fullback and Vice-Captain Pou Siola’a St Patrick’s College led 16-3 at halftime. Before the game we had emphasised the importance of demonstrating a Division I ‘Attitude’ that accepted a game lasts seventy minutes and would not be won or lost in the opening half. Led by Captain Inoke Siola’a the first half performance certainly reflected this attitude, however did require greater levels of support and a heightened display of technique to really assert our dominance.
The first twenty minutes of the second half was some of the best schoolboy rugby that I have seen in the decade I have coached in Victoria. Outstanding, dynamic work with the ball, immense pressure built to retain it when the ball was lost – offloads and go forward ball that any side would have been proud of – led to numerous scores and with Pou in imperious form with the boot the score soon raced out to 44-3. Tries were scored by Ola, Josh Cooper, Inoke and Isaac Roberts. Numerous changes were made to allow valuable game time for the entire squad – and the impact was varied. Both Mick Porter (co-coach) and I are keen to develop the strength in depth of the College’s rugby and this will continue to be a focus as the season unfolds. Unfortunately, poor execution in our opposition’s red zone and the performance levels of some players dropping gifted Haileybury 14 points to bring the final score to 44-17.
With respect to our opposition we shall face sterner tests this season, however we left Melbourne with a maximum five competition points and plenty of positives, one of which is the identifying of areas that we know we can improve upon immediately. This is a very young 1stXV with only three Yr12 players starting and a backline that is all bottom age. This bodes well for the future of the College’s rugby program, however I like to live in the ‘now’ and I am very excited by what this playing group might achieve THIS year.
We travel to Melbourne again this coming weekend to meet perhaps our fiercest rivals, Marcellin College. Whilst only just acknowledging the importance of considering the present, our defeat in last year’s semi-final still smarts a little – only one way to remedy that!! Thank you to all those who supported us and the various teams in this opening round – we look forward to plenty more in the weeks to come.