1st XV report – August 1- SPC d Xavier

August 1, 2015

St Patrick’s College 1stXV vs. Xavier College (01/08) SEMI FINAL

Fulltime -“ 27-17 (HT 14-10)

Tries -“ Joshua Coward 3, Nicholas Donghi 1

Conversions -“ Joshua Coward 2/4

Penalties -“ Joshua Coward 1/1

I have said it before, I shall say it again -“ what this playing group has achieved is simply miraculous. Today was the College’s first involvement in the VSRU Division IFinals -“ first ever. A little under twelve months ago we were well beaten by Marcellin College in the Division II Grand Final -“ next Saturday these remarkable young men have earned the right to contest the Division I Grand Final. What a year! I want to acknowledge Xavier College who are a well-coached, disciplined group and played their part in today’s spectacle. It was a game worthy of a semi-final, offering the supporters everything -“ individual flair, team resolve, outstanding rugby smarts -“ a game worthy of our College’s Main Oval and, to play on that, we are most grateful to all who facilitated our request. A bitterly cold, damp morning did not keep our supporters away -“ and as always we are also thankful to that. The rugby community at St Pat’s may be only small in numbers but what an unbelievable noise they can make and as today’s game had its moments in the balance the vocal home ground was instrumental in getting us over the line.

As coach I must now turn my attentions to next Saturday but I have asked our boys to enjoy the week ahead as grand finalists. We won’t change our week ahead. We will recover, we will plan, we will train, we will be ready for another game of rugby -“ but we will enjoy ourselves. We have earned the right to enjoy ourselves. St Kevin’s College will be Grand Final opponents and will go in as favourites. Their unblemished record this season speaks volumes for the program they offer and the talent throughout their College but we will not be overawed and all I will ask for is for each player to be accountable. Marcellin is the venue, there must be an element of irony in that, and whilst our football brethren compete for an unprecedented sixth straight Herald Sun Shield success we will chase our own moment of glory. That said I believe this has already been achieved and win or lose next Saturday all who have worn our jersey this year can be immensely proud of what has been accomplished by all.

Two teams today competed for a place in the showpiece event next Saturday -“ two teams with a distinct way of playing, a way that had seen both successful throughout the season. Xavier College had a strong, well-structured pack and maintain pressure through their forwards well. We look for quick, dynamic breakdown work to utilise the pace our backline possesses. Within five minutes Paddies found themselves 14-0 up after too lightning attacks from disciplined work by our forwards and finished with finesse firstly by Joshua Coward and then by Nicholas Donghi. Both players’ individual skill sets are exceptional and were demonstrated on this occasion. Xavier were far from beaten and responded in positive fashion. Ill-discipline at the breakdown gifted the opposition territory and a well-drilled lineout saw the gap between the two sides reduced by 5. More concerted pressure, missed one-on-one tackles saw Xavier cross for their second score of the first term and that was how the scoreboard was left at halftime with the home side in the lead 14-10.

The message at halftime was focussed on finer details and adjustments that were made paid dividends immediately after halftime when stolen lineout ball saw captain Joshua Coward cross the whitewash for his second try of the morning. The game then see-sawed with both sides guilty of some simple turnovers and ill-discipline. Ultimately a period of sustained pressure saw a further score to the opposition through their forward pack and with the try converted the score was evenly poised at 19-17. A wonderfully struck penalty gave St Pats breathing space before, after some excellent try line defence, Josh Coward completed his hat trick with a length of the field, opportunistic try. The conversion was missed but with just moments on the clock the home side now led by 27-17.

I would like to offer special thanks to U16 coach Mick Porter for his last minute assistance. On the eve of this game, only to highlight the significance of what this College has achieved this year, we had a squad of just 16. Mick assisted me with communicating with U16 players to move onto the bench. One of those, Liam Findlay, made his debut and others, Will and Jaspa, although they did not get on the field, demonstrated a great team spirit with their support. This camaraderie is what success at the College is founded upon.

I do hope you all can join us this coming Saturday -“ it is the collective that has seen us come this far, I would like the collective to enjoy the conclusion to our season.

Best: 5 -“ Joshua Coward 4 -“ Nicholas Donghi, 3 -“ Dyvontae Tippett, 2 -“ Brendan Bell, 1 -“ Sean Howard