1st XV report – July 25 – SPC v MGS

July 26, 2015

St Patrick’s College 1stXV v. Melbourne Grammar (25/07)

Fulltime -“ 40-33 (HT 19-14)

Tries -“ Joshua Coward 1, Nicholas Donghi 1, Marcus Kaponga 1, Kobe Travers 1, Billy Munter 1, Charlie Pollard 1

Conversions -“ Joshua Coward 5/6

If you will indulge me, and this is a rarity, but I would like to keep today’s match report short but sweet. It will also not include the detailed breakdown of the mechanics of the game but instead focus on the remarkable achievement that has been accomplished by our 1stXV squad.

Today’s game marks the conclusion of the regular season. After our victory it has left us with an outstanding record of played nine, won eight, finishing in 2nd position on the ladder.

It has been said before but it can’t be stressed enough -“ this is our maiden season in Division I. Just 29 players have pulled on our 1stXV jersey over the nine rounds -“ 11 of the 29 had never played rugby before this season -“ 18 of the 29 had never played 1stXV rugby.

To have bettered all bar St Kevin’s is simply unbelievable and is a testament to our boys, to our program and to our dedicated parent group. We have remained unbeaten here in Ballarat and knocked over heavy weights Melbourne Grammar, Brighton and Marcellin on our travels.

Every goal we set as a coaching team at the start of the season has been exceeded.

Our finals campaign, commencing here against Xavier College is one to enjoy.

We will not underestimate Xavier or lose sight of the opportunities that still lie ahead -“ we must back up from today with a commitment to our training this week and an eagerness to keep this season going for as long as possible.

Melbourne Grammar have contested the VSRU Division I Grand Final for the past four seasons and were victorious in 2011.

The morning in Melbourne was perfect, we were playing on their centre stage, marquee field in front of an expectant crowd with Grammar needing to beat us to secure a top four position and finals footy.

Our boys were acutely aware of the significant motivation Melbourne Grammar had but had plenty of their own -“ a chance to knock a heavyweight out of finals and continue our excellent post-holidays form. Today for our SPC 1stXV the focus was on winning the game, playing phase rugby, without the insistence to try and win the game from first phase, and creating momentum to take into our finals campaign, which had been secured the week before with our win against Geelong Grammar. It was a particularly special day for Matt Green who made his run-on debut and for David Smith who became the 29th player capped at 1stXV level this year. To both players we offer our congratulations.

The game itself see-sawed -“ Grammar looked dangerous when they built phases and created opportunities for their forward pack to punch holes in midfield -“ SPC looked equally so when they won turnover ball and had front foot momentum. Melbourne were to score first but it was the only time they would lead in the game. It had been our desire to implement aspects of our finals structure in this game and we were able to for large parts of the first half but poor decisions, ill-discipline and, at times, simply the wrong side of the referee, allowed Melbourne to stay in touching distance in the first half. Despite a yellow card to fullback Charlie Pollard early in the second half, even with our numerical disadvantage we were able to score twice with the forward pack working our phase structure well to create space for our backline. Two late scores brought Grammar back into the contest but with the last of those on the final whistle the end result was a fair reflection of an entertaining encounter.

Special mention must go to Nicholas Donghi whose rugby smarts and individual brilliance were on display throughout this game and he was recognised by both sets of coaches with having delivered a man of the match performance. For St Pats he was ably assisted by halfback Marcus Kaponga who marshalled the forward pack with clear direction and crossed the whitewash for a sniping score in the first half.

What are you doing on Saturday, August 1st? I hope you will be pitch side supporting your 1stXV in their Semi Final. Win or lose we are certain to entertain and the result will only continue to support the finest season of schoolboy rugby here at St Patrick’s College. I will see you all there.

Best: Nicholas Donghi, Marcus Kaponga, Brendan Bell, Chris Saunders, Kobe Travers