Brisbane Rugby Weekend Wrap
Spring has sprung and therefore the pointy end of the rugby season in this part of the world has arrived. At the weekend we had the Brisbane schoolboys GPS competition decided, the finalists determined for next weekend’s Brisbane Premiership Grand Final and the last domestic international for the Rugby Championship on the Gold Coast (of course there is still one more Bledisloe Cup match at Suncorp Stadium on October 20th & the HSBC International 7s at Skilled Stadium a week earlier on October 13/14th).
Firstly on Saturday, St. Joseph’s Nudgee College took on Brisbane Grammar in front of a crowd around 4000 for the last round of the GPS Schoolboy Competition. In the early spring sunshine, in the northern Brisbane suburb, Grammar turned around their fortunes of three years ago where they did not win a match to defeat Nudgee 37-24 and therefore record their first GPS title in 20 years. Spearheaded by backrower Jack Cornelsen, son of former Wallaby great Greg, with two five-pointers, confirming his inclusion in the Australian Schoolboys five-match tour of Fiji and New Zealand departing tomorrow (September 19th).
Later that day down the Gold Coast, the first fully fledged international rugby union match on the glitter strip occurred at Skilled Park, Robina (some may remember an Australia A v Canada match occurred at the same venue last year). Part of the inaugural Rugby Championship the Wallabies took on the Argentine Pumas; an opposition they had not played since the opening match of the 2003 World Cup. Although having a strong rugby tradition with a third placing at the 2007 World Cup the Pumas have hitherto been left out of regular international competitions. In the interim between the last meeting at the international level, Australia has played the All Blacks 27 times, the Springboks 24, Wales 13, England 12, Scotland and Ireland eight times each and even Italian Azzurri on seven occasions.
With much anticipation the rampaging Argentinians, coming off a draw with the Springboks and a half time lead against the All Blacks, had the 22,278 strong crowd stunned when they led 19-6 with only 25 minutes left on the clock. However, the character the Aussies displayed after a passionate spray by Captain Nathan Sharpe behind their goal line showed real belief in their ability. Previous villain of the Pumas first try after a charge-down, Quade Cooper, redeemed himself with a crisp pass to Pat McCabe 5-metres out to crash over for the start of the comeback in the 59th minute. 10 minutes later Will Genia’s replacement for the match, Nick Phipps, made a blindside dash from a Wallaby ruck and passed to Digby Ioane for the match winning try that was converted by Berrick Barnes to put Australia in the lead, 20-19, for the first time in the match. The last act was Kurtley Beale’s penalty, with Barnes off the field with cramp, to give a crucial 4-point buffer in the dying minutes to confirm another come from behind win for the Wallabies 24-19.
Then on Sunday at Ballymore the Premiership preliminary final between minor premiers Brothers and Sunnybank occurred. Littered with Queensland Reds players, the Dragon demolished the Brethren 43-15 to progress to next weekend’s Grand Final against Queensland University. Tries to the Tapuai brothers, Ben & Rex, as well as a skilful display by Matt Lucas, who will be heading to the NSW Waratahs next year, was too much for season long leaders.
Sunnybank Dragons coach, Rod Seib, may have to reorganise his side for the GF if lock Rod Simmons and Ben Tapuai are called on by the Wallabies for their tests in South Africa and Argentina. Queensland University is also sweating on whether Qld Red, Mike Harris, will be available for them for the finale. Since both Harris & Tapuai are both midfield backs, it is likely only one will be called up gifting the other team a decided advantage.