1st XV report – June 18 – SPC d Xavier College

June 18, 2015

St Patrick’s College 1stXV d Xavier College-

Fulltime -“ 33-21 (HT 19-21)

Tries -“ Nicholas Donghi 3, Mickitja Rotumah-Onus 1, Leslie Maroney 1

Conversions -“ Marcus Kaponga 0/1, Dyvontae Tippett 4/4

This was not a game for the purists -“ it was a tough encounter between two very evenly matched sides. Both Xavier and St Pat’s went into the contest on 20 competition points, joint second place. The winner of the game would be a step closer to a top two finish and a guaranteed home semi-final. Ultimately SPC were able to manage the game better and came out on top. Moving into the holiday break the College is second on the ladder with a record of 6 wins from 7 games -“ unbeaten at home, which was one of our preseason goals.-

Today’s game saw 1stXV debuts for four players -“ Cameron Tranter, Mickitja Rotumah-Onus, Liam Howarth and Cameron Pither. All four players are 1stXVIII College representatives but given a recent loss of personnel for this vital game put their hands up to play. This attitude is what underpins the strength of this playing group and I believe can propel this side to great success this year and beyond. Rugby is a team sport -“ where the side is only as strong as its least experienced player. I want to personally thank those players, vital members of the squad, whose preparation today, even though they were not ultimately played, was exemplary and a credit to them. Again this attitude will see only positive outcomes for the College moving forwards.

To the game -“ Xavier are a well-structured outfit. For much of the match they kept the ball well, putting multiple phases together. Well organised in defence they were astute at contesting the breakdown, winning valuable turnover ball. That said the opening engagements saw a period of territorial dominance by the home side. Ultimately fullback Leslie Maroney was able to convert this pressure into points, touching down for his second score in just six days. The conversion though was unsuccessful. Worryingly, from the ensuing kick-off, Xavier were able to disrupt the College’s exit strategy and, a few phases later, take a two point lead after their goal kicker was successful in converting their first try of the afternoon. It was disappointing that on Xavier’s first foray into our territory they were able to come away with points -“ a sign of a good side.

For the remainder of the half it was somewhat of an arm wrestle between both teams. Nicholas Donghi, who made his long awaited return in the previous round, continued his rich try scoring vein with a double that saw SPC’s lead extend to 19-7. The second of these scores deserves special mention for it was one of the finest tries that will be seen in the competition this season. Receiving the pill just inside his own half Nick stood up his opposite man with some dazzling footwork before out pacing the opposition winger -“ with just the fullback to beat Nick chipped the ball over his opponent’s head, regathered the ball before the covering defender could reach the ball, fended off this would-be tackler and dotting down under the sticks. Nick is a match winner -“ and this try was worthy to win any game. Unfortunately ill-discipline, poor decision making and a lack of completed one-on-one tackles invited Xavier back into the game, which they wilfully accepted with two converted tries to edge the first half 19-21.

The second half saw both teams heavily penalised, which disrupted either from gaining any momentum. The half was low scoring and opportunities to extend the score were few and far between. In the end it was two moments of individual brilliance, examples of incredible athleticism that decided this tight affair. Firstly Nick completed his hat trick, to bring his tally to seven tries in two games, with a quickly taken penalty and a 70metre dash to the line and then debutant Mickitja Rotumah-Onus pounced on a Xavier backline error to brilliantly control the ball and race away to score what will surely not be his last try for the College. Both tries were converted by captain for the day Dyvontae Tippett to leave the final score 33-21.

This game marked the end of assistant coach Ben Shove’s involvement with the College as he returns to the UK this week as his GAP year concludes. Ben has been an outstanding support to me and the playing group from the very first days of preseason in October through to this final victory and, although I receive many of the plaudits for our success, much should be directed to Ben who has been pivotal. We all wish him the very best for whatever his future holds -“ a coaching career must surely be on the cards.

I wish our entire playing group and their families an enjoyable break -“ the VSRU Division I table looks very healthy at the moment. – –

Best: Nicholas Donghi, Cam Tranter, Brendan Bell, Alex Kerr, Mickitja Rotumah-Onus