This year the Rawson rugby campaign for Andrew’s was a complete success. As many may be aware, the demands of Rawson rugby upon players from all Colleges, in particular the demands of training and playing for two teams each week, requires depth in the squad and men to step up to the mark when their time comes. As such, often this competition is not so much a matter of the most talented side but the side that is able to front up on the day with the collected nerve and toughness to grind out matches. In the 2013 competition, for this reason there was some early controversy regarding whether scrums would be contested and a steady stream of injuries which plagued the squad, however the Drew’s rugby men met these challenges to step up and claim convincing victories in all matches played.
The first obstacle facing Andrew’s on the gruelling path to glory was the old foe St Paul’s. As expected, the encounter was not without the traditional fireworks between the two sides. Drew’s jumped out to an early lead, however allowed Paul’s back into the game through indiscipline, and had the bell not rung for oranges, we were in danger of being breached and the game being thrown wide open for either team. Thankfully though, the halftime break allowed us to consolidate and refocus, consequently resulting in the Drew’s machine getting one up over our rivals from across the oval 44-16. Mentions must be made in the forwards to big Ben Lawley in finishing off a great pick and go movement and to fResher Calum Buckling for some timely interventions of aggression and aerial skill in claiming the kick offs. Also of note was the inside combination of fR Tim Duchesne and Cameron Mason who were tactically outstanding.
The second game was against the previous finalists St John’s, who again came out ready to rock Drew’s and ignite their campaign. Though all intentions were for a hard and fast start, errors and ill-discipline meant that it was a stop-start affair to begin with. Hampered by penalties, eventually a yellow card was handed out to hard-nosed veteran flanker Stu “the Land-Shark” Goodman for an over-enthusiastic tackle. While St Johns’ defence for the most part held strong and demonstrated a capacity to defend with solid structure high into the phase count, it was the hard work up front in the first half by Drew’s which set a platform for strong midfield back play in the second stanza. Again points seemed to flow from being patient at the breakdown in defence and building pressure through ball retention in attack. Consequently as we came away with the win, the aim for the final became simple – to play to our potential and unleash our weaponry out wide in our wings fR Daniel Potts (self-proclaimed best looking intercollege player), Henry Clunies-Ross and fullback Jack O’Connor.
Consequently after two wins we came into the final against Wesley firm favourites. Within the team however there was knowledge that the Wesley team had the capability and the credibility as giant killers, knowledge which we used as motivation in training and during the game to spur on absolute execution of movements and the seizure of opportunities when they arose. This proved the difference in the first half as Drew’s came under the pump from ferocious, sustained and organised Wesley attack. For 10 to 15 minutes Wesley, the enemy, held our line under siege. Our defence held though and we eventually managed to exit our own half, despite moments where it was only the technical superiority in the defence of fullback O’Connor which kept the score board at nil.
As we made a sneaky lineout steal on the Wesley 40m line, our first opportunity arose following a few phases, and akin to Winston Churchill in a Sherman tank busting through the front line, pivot Cameron Mason raised the heart rates of women on the sideline as he struck open pasture. Again however Mason failed to convert as he was tackled agonisingly close to the try line. Luckily though a penalty advantage was being played by the referee, with the ensuing scrum demonstrating the expertise of the Drew’s front row and the toughness of loosehead Richard Quigley, who ran on having sustained a significant injury to his ribs only the Saturday before. Despite his ailment, and indeed that of Brendan ‘Yogi Bear’ Davis (who had also dislocated his knee just days earlier and was packing in the second row behind Quigley), the power came and demolished the Wesley pack, resulting in a pushover try and the first points on the board for St Andrew’s.
Execution close to the opposition try line proved to be the difference between the sides in the end, as Drew’s finally managed to spread the ball to the speedsters out wide who were able to get around the Wesley defence. Credit however must also be given to the Wesley side as they managed to bust our line on multiple occasions but each time could not link with outside support and finish it off. Had some of these breaks resulted in tries, Wesley probably would have stuck with us for longer and came away with an end score that reflected the quality of them as opposition and the intensity of the game more. Nevertheless, we were absolutely thrilled to come away with a 50-0 win in the final and having achieved our aim to put a complete performance on the park sung the Drew’s song in satisfaction of having beaten a quality opposition through playing quality football.
Thank you to all who gave up their time to come down and support Rawson rugby in 2013, it has been a fantastic competition that has lived up to the hype and in particular it has been a pleasure to play in front of a number of Drew’s alumni who, as always, gave us unrestrained encouragement and support.
We look forward to seeing you all in next year’s competition.
– Sam Quinn