Sunday, September 07, 2014

PHOTO of the Week: Major Semi Finals

   With the exception of the odd year here and there since 1983, my Rugby Club has been fairly successful across four senior grades and two or three plus Colts in recent years. I've blogged before about a year like 2005 with Club Championship and all other teams achieving things through the Finals... but in this year of re-engaging in a 'player welfare' role I have watched as every senior team were Minor Premiers. That's Women's Rugby who won their Grand Final, C Grade whose Grand Final is this coming Saturday and then on the weekend I was there for Major Semi's for Premier 3s, Colts, Premier 2s and 1s... stunning achievement with the structures and ideas put in place under the leadership of an active committee and Head Coach Todd Louden. 
As it can be, Saturday was a mixed day... 
3rds played a spirited Uni side with a smattering of ex first graders who've had a decent season
Against the breeze our 3rds took 20mins to really get going and endured a heavy rain shower and the usual August winds, straight down the ground... Uni didn't quite make enough of the breeze and although it fined up and moderated for the second half our blokes used the conditions better but also slowly got on top in possession, the drums and use of the ball in attacking positions.
The scrum was dominant and only needs to keep the drive straight to avoid penalties for intentionally screwing the scrum [where it spins right around] It's a fine line as if that happens the others lose the ball but if it's through your spinning it around rather than pushing it around, then you are penalised.
In the end 3rds asserted themselves and came away with a good win. Uni couldn't sustain their pressure and weren't fast enough to stop us in the backs/wide.

Colts were in a wrestle with a committed Hamilton who really turned up at the start. Again it took time for our blokes to settle into a pattern. They have won a few games by 80-100 points this year and that doesn't always set you up for end of season matches against second best... A few key players asserted themselves in the second half and gaps opened up... It was a good win and two more Grand Final appearances secured.

Seconds met a Southern Beaches team they clocked off against in the rounds but Beaches were full of energy and everything went their way. Wanderers worked hard and showed the ability to fight back but I think some disruption to selections showed in rusty combinations. We didn't use the breeze well enough in this game and a few options were costly. The side fought back and showed enough to say they can respond in the Final next week...

Firsts was a disappointing loss for a side that has played so well for almost the whole season!! A few injuries and some team adjustments were problematic but the task here was a difficult one...
Beaches use two big boppers and a quality number 8, plus enthusiasm and commitment to running, chasing, hitting... to be in the contest for 80mins.
Our blokes did well containing and moving up on the big forwards and the 5/8th who can be pushed sideways by a quick defence. A big factor was the Beaches lifted for this game and played very well with the breeze. I thought it was a 17 point breeze against most teams... unfortunately 24-0 was a tough ask.
Almost straight away in the second half, some straight running and a little bit of field position kicking made us look a different side. Beaches were not going away and did win lots of breakdown ball and some good field position. Fitness did begin to show and Wanderers played some smart rugby to get to 21-24 but in the end the clock beat them. If the game had 5 more mins I believe our 1sts would have won, but it would have been a mixed feeling.
I felt for them after a giant slaying year in which they deserve to win through next week and have another crack with some small changes to the team and a bit of early pressure to see if they can't get a lead early!!

It wasn't a comfortable game on the weekend and it wasn't played quite at the pace we need to excel!!
I look forward to cheering them all on next Saturday and Sunday!!

Oh yeah, that photo... one of the things I miss most about playing is that feeling of relief and quiet celebration of winning through and the unique camaraderie of sharing that with team mates as you cheer off the opposition and have a few moments as team mates before the noise and mayhem of the sheds... bring on training and next week!!

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