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Rugby: SPC 1st XV defeats Xavier

author: Mike Silcock

14 May

Rugby: SPC 1st XV defeats Xavier

St. Patrick’s College 1st XV vs. Xavier College – May 13, 2017
Full time: SPC 40 d XC 21 (HT 14-7) 
Try scorers: Eddie Sauvao, Pou Siola’a, Ethan Jessop, Josh Wilson-Stanton, Simon Porter, Chris Tuitea
Conversions: Chris Tuitea (5/6)

5 – Inoke Siola’a 4 – Josh Cooper 3 – Josh Wilson-Stanton 2 – Regan Champley 1 – Ethan Jessop
This was the first occasion this year when all four sides were drawn at home. An inaugural rugby parent group ‘social’ had started the weekend’s proceedings on Friday night to much enjoyment – however as the sun rose on Saturday morning all attention was on Shed Oval and the rugby action. 
All in attendance were treated to some outstanding rugby by our U13s, U14s and U16s. Our U16s continued their unbeaten start to the season in comprehensive fashion, 38-7 against Xavier College. Our U14s lost to Scotch College (31-36) in a game that was only settled in the last moments, however the ‘game of the day’ went to our U13s who, on the final play, levelled an unbelievable contest, also against Scotch, 41 all. For a group of boys who before this game had only managed a single try and been soundly beaten twice, the rugby skill, passion and determination they showed was incredible – and the undoubted highlight of this rugby weekend. Next week all four sides are again at home and against no less than the rugby powerhouse St Kevin’s College, our Edmund Rice brethren. I urge all parents, guardians, families and friends to come and support all sides – enjoying a fabulous morning of entertainment at the same time.
Our 1st XV were playing at home for the first time this season. Two wins from two outings provided much confidence going into Saturday’s game. Home advantage, particularly for us, is critical and it needed to be utilised well in the opening exchanges. Our final message focussed on three aspects – discipline (keeping team penalties below nine), rugby ‘smarts’ (playing in the right areas of the field) and a ‘70 min effort’ (sustained efforts, not in patches). It is hard to write however it was clear that these messages had not ‘sunk in’ to our players. The opening twenty minutes was poor. A yellow card for a technical infringement, numerous missed tackles and naïve body positioning at the breakdown saw our opponents with an early lead. There will be no ‘easy’ games in Division I and Saturday was the perfect example. Xavier are a capable side, however we made it far too easy for them, which only afforded them confidence. Ultimately a more disciplined second half to the first term saw us lead (14-7) at the break. I should highlight a simply sublime score by fullback and Vice-Captain, Pou Siola’a, that saw multiple offloads in a narrow channel, that would certainly be a contender for ‘try of the season’, again highlighting the capabilities of this young side with ball in hand.
Stern words were given at halftime – and for the most part paid dividends at the start of the second half. Whilst both sides added to their interval score shortly after the break, which still left the score flattering our opponents, we finally started to gain some ascendency, possession and territory as Xavier began to tire. Led outstandingly by Captain Inoke Siola’a, who would have made more metres with ball-in-hand than any other player on the park, our 1st XV side began to play to the game plan that had been worked on through training all week. Two further tries for the ‘highlight reel’ would follow when outside centre Josh Wilson-Stanton scored his first try for the College with a beautifully executed set piece move and then loose forward Simon Porter finished a real team try that saw us stretch the Xavier defence from one side to the other before the ball was dotted down in the corner. Strong ball runner Ethan Jessop also crossed and with some impeccable kicking from fly half Chris Tuitea, one from a score of his own, SPC led 40-14 late in the game. Disappointingly Xavier grabbed a consolation try as the game finished 40-21.
Records will reflect five competition points to our side, none to our opponents – and a rather one-sided result. However, I shall share with you what I said to our players after the game. Our expectations are not simply to challenge – they are to win this competition. To do so we must beat St Kevin’s – and, if we perform as we did at the start and finish of this game, we shall not. Improvement is needed, however I will add that this playing group has already shown that it wants to learn, wants to improve – so we look forward to a hard week on the training paddock and a cracker of a game against the reigning premiers this coming Saturday.
Thank you again to all those who were so supportive this past weekend for all our sides. Our players, our coaches, our College, greatly appreciates and values all that you bring to making our Saturday’s the spectacle they are.
See you next weekend.

A photo gallery from Saturday's matches can be found at this link