1st XV report – May 30 – SPC lt St Kevin’s College

May 31, 2015

St Patrick’s College 1stXV vs. St Kevin’s College-

Fulltime -“ 3-48 (HT 3-31)

Penalty -“ Joshua Coward

Opportunity. Today’s game against three-time consecutive Div I premiers St Kevin’s provided an opportunity against the Victorian schoolboy rugby -‘benchmark’. Seven premierships in the past ten years of competition highlight rugby -‘pedigree’ and a well-run program. Newcomers in this division and with a -‘development’ tag in recent years the playing group had the opportunity to test itself. Individually and collectively, from both the players and coaching staff, we were found wanting. Early season form and promise as ground to a halt. Spectators are afforded the luxury of observations that question the strength of the table topping St Kevin’s -“ as the Head Coach of our 1stXV, I am not. St Kevin’s were deserved victors and the margin reflected the gap that currently exists between the two sides. I do, however, choose my words carefully. The resounding defeat today reflects the current divide -“ it does not need to be an indicator of how the 2015 VSRU Div I season will conclude.

It is at times like this evening, whilst the game is fresh in all of our minds, that honest reflection is needed. Preparations for today’s game were hindered by a growing arrogance that has crept into the playing group’s training and general demeanour in the College. Whether this has been created by the early season results or individuals with inflated self-worth is difficult to determine. As Head Coach it is my responsibility to control our playing group and I take ownership of this disappointing growing attitude but the playing group, led by the leadership team, must also recognise their part. The greatest positive from today’s defeat was the strengthening of our playing group and coaching staff on the final whistle. Frank words from myself, honesty from the players and then unity demonstrated as we all came together will be instrumental in how we respond to events at St Kevin’s and how we bounce back.-

Any experience -“ whether good or bad -“ has worth and should be used as a -‘lesson learnt’. This report may appear to be focussing on the negative but I believe it is important that all concerned with our 1stXV rugby program glean a true insight into what is occurring. Lessons have been learnt from today. The penny clearly dropped for many and I, and the rest of our coaching team, drove back to Ballarat excited for these final weeks of Term (2) and home fixtures against Trinity Grammar and Xavier College. Two wins from these two games to bring a close to this term’s action will see us in second place on the ladder with a respectable 6 from 7 playing record. Anything less, as determined by the players, is unacceptable. We will all do all we can to achieve this aim and show our true worth.

The game itself was, cliché unavoidable, one of two halves. St Kevin’s have an aura that opposition sides create. There is a sense of inevitability that exists in many players’ minds that St Kevin’s can’t be beaten. It would seem that this was prevalent for us today as St Kevin’s dominated the first half encounters, running in 5 tries and conceding a mere 3 point penalty. The gulf in physicality and conditioning was particularly significant and provided further support for the need for our training sessions to incorporate these essential elements. Communication was lacking, the forward pack was caught between not contesting the breakdown and pushing up to pressure phase ball that ultimately led to neither occurring and when SPC did have ball our attack was ineffective with ball shifted wide where our runners were isolated and continuity lost. In a half when individual error was also particularly high, with countless one on one tackles missed, mention must be made of captain Josh Coward whose cover defence and work rate was first class.

Strong words at half time were delivered and seemed to pay dividends. Despite a significant period of time in our 22m area SKC were unable to convert pressure into points and the half looked likely to end in a stalemate. St Pats attacked with more purpose, were more accountable defensively but could not convert their pressure into points on the scoreboard. In the last ten minutes of the game fatigue set in and SKC were able to add to their half time score with a further three tries, of which one was successfully converted. The end score saw St Kevin’s win 48-3.

It is somewhat difficult to draw a conclusion on today. SKC were, as I wrote, deserved winners but the performance in the second half and the moment together as a whole group on the final whistle were encouraging and put wind back in our sails as we move closer to the business end of the competition.

I would welcome all the support possible at our next two home games that will certainly define our season. – –

Best: Joshua Coward, Brendan Bell, Billy Sullivan, Ben DeBono, Sean Howard