There is no greater foe in TAS Rugby than mighty St Columban’s - the boys from Caboolture. They’re rough, tough, athletic and generally on the big side. ‘Country’ boys always are. They don’t always travel well, but at home, they are very hard to beat, so much so that their playing fields have become a bit of a graveyard for Ormiston teams in recent years. Yet, in 2017, there is a different feel in the air. Ormiston’s promising start to the TAS season across all grades saw our lads travel up the Bruce Highway confident of establishing a new TAS Rugby pecking order.
The Year 7 team had never faced off against St Columban’s, as they do not contest the Junior TAS competition like OC does. On the back of an unfortunate season ending injury to Akash Saravanan, the boys were reduced to 14 fit and available players for this contest. This did not deter them as captain Laif Williams once again led them into battle. Noah Clark, Geoffrey Harvey and Dylan Priddy got the job done up front, and halves Nathan Manne and Jamal Meena got the backline moving, as Ormiston controlled the match throughout. Jackson Mauerhan had a breakout performance scoring two tries, with a likely third try only thwarted through foul play that ultimately led to a penalty try. Versatile back Cameron Douglas notched up his fourth consecutive ‘Team of the Week’ nomination in yet another eye-catching performance. With CHAC next on the agenda, the boys will be keen to continue their fine form, as they look to stay in the premiership race.
The Year 8 team continues to defy the doubters, notching up yet another close victory. Scores were remarkably locked at 0-0 at half time, highlighting the determined defence of both teams. After some timely advice from Coach King, the boys returned to the pitch in the second stanza determined to secure their fourth victory of the season. The tense battle continued throughout as both sides finally scored a try to take the score to 5-5. When Aaron Fisher grabbed his all-important second try, Ormiston had pushed out to a 10-5 lead, and this is how it remained despite some late controversy seeing an intercept try to St Columban’s disallowed for offside play. The Year 8 juggernaut rolls onto next week, where they will face CHAC, a team that secured an upset victory in 2016. Another win will see them one step closer to their premiership dream.
The Year 9 team are red hot at the moment. After their thrilling victory against WMAC last weekend it was onto the next job against St Columban’s. OC did not get to play St Columban’s in 2016 due to a washout, and in 2015, they went down in a close contest. 2017 would prove to be entirely different as the boys blitzed their hapless opponents 36-5 in a six tries to one performance. Ewan Marr and Max Goldsbrough each scored a brace of tries and were joined on the scoresheet by tenacious forwards Braith Watkins and Jack Sherrin. Jack in particular is having a season to remember and must surely be eyeing off Best Forward or MVP honours. In the backs, Kevin Savage and Ethan Dixon drew praise from the coaches, whilst Sam Farrar continues to be a model of consistency at halfback. Not only is this team winning, but it is also lighting it up averaging more than five tries a game across the season. The next real challenge will come in a fortnight as JPC roll into town.
Previously undefeated, the Year 10 team knew that the clash with St Columban’s would likely determine the number one spot on the ladder. The boys had waited patiently for two years looking for redemption after an opening 15-minute blitz left the boys stunned in 2015. A washout prevented play in 2016. Despite only having 13 fit players, the boys confidently took to the pitch. With OC seeing minimal ball in the early stages, it was St Columban’s who scored first. Another soon after had Ormiston on the back foot but Tom Lampacher grabbed his second try of the season soon after to keep Ormiston within reach. On the stroke of halftime, Brett Smits stepped up to knock over a penalty but the score read 14-10 in St Columban’s favour heading into the break. In the second half a try was traded between the two teams, with Cade Elliott doing it all himself for Ormiston. Another try to St Columban’s saw the score push out to 26-17 with precious minutes left on the clock. Ormiston then capitalised on an opponent’s mistake to set up shop near St Columban’s line. Unfortunately, a number of unforced errors saw Ormiston squander their best opportunities of the match. In the final minute Ormiston was awarded a penalty adjacent to the posts. With no chance of pegging back the entire nine-point margin, Ormiston elected to take the three points on offer. Brett Smits calmly slotted the goal to secure a perfect day with the boot and deliver Ormiston a crucial bonus point despite the loss. The boys were beaten, but not broken, and look forward to a potential rematch in four weeks’ time. Only JPC in Week 6 could stand in their way.
The Second XV is always at the mercy of the health of not only their own players but also that of the First XV. Injury to regular lock Oscar Witham saw a reshuffle in the pack with Louis Benjamin-Agnew getting his first start of the season, whilst illness in the First XV saw backline general Sam Meaney promoted, vacating his fly half jersey. Captain Gus Moloney stepped into his shoes and with Jacob Poole moving into the centres and Lachlan Thompson covering fullback it still looked a strong side on paper. Unfortunately, St Columban’s too assembled a strong side with some particularly impressive backline players, who played the game with real flair. Despite the best efforts of the OC Seconds, they could not contain their skilful opponents going down 22-5. Ben Stone scored OC’s only try and earned MVP honours on the day. Liam Gilbert, Tristan Wright and Ryan Harmer also performed strongly throughout the match. It is back to the drawing board for Coaches Mentz and Stewart, and they will now have a fortnight to prepare for JPC as CHAC will not field a Second XV this coming weekend.
Ormiston’s First XV sides have not fared too well against St Columban’s in recent years, losing three consecutive grand finals in 2012, 2013 and 2014. In 2015, it was one-way traffic and in 2016, OC was saved by the rain. But this 2017 side is made of sterner stuff. Welcoming back their four Met East stars, OC went into the contest truly believing they could get a result. This, despite giving away an average of 10kg per position to their opponents. Slow starts have come to define the Firsts in 2017 and again they found themselves on the back foot as St Columban’s stormed to an early 12-0 lead. Finally gaining some traction and a footing in the match OC rallied to score a try out wide to Tanner Elliott, after some neat work at lineout time saw Jack Morton go ever so close. The 12-5 halftime score was a fair reflection of the first half. Despite this score, it was evident that OC was starting to wrestle the ascendency back off their opponents. A dubious St Columban’s try in the second half was cancelled out by a rampaging run from Tanner Elliott as he grabbed his second try of the match. With OC pushing for victory, a penalty allowed the boys to kick for the corner. This moment demanded perfect skill execution, and that is exactly what Aaron Mason and Tanner Elliott delivered as Aaron perfectly found Tanner in the middle of the lineout. The ensuing maul saw Ormiston march the ball forward with Aaron Mason patiently holding the ball at the back. With the try line under his feet, Aaron dropped to the ground to grab the score that would tie the match at 17 apiece. The final ten minutes were tense with neither side giving an inch. As the clock hit 70 minutes, the 17-17 score is how it stayed. Coach Dowdell was thrilled with the result, as his lads hold a crucial bonus point advantage over St Columban’s. This will likely prove to be very important if the Firsts are to sneak into the Grand Final in Week 8.
To venture to Caboolture and come away with three wins and a draw is simply outstanding. With the toughest opponent behind us, our teams will look ahead to the next two weeks against CHAC and JPC to consolidate their ladder positions and hopefully lock away a grand final spot. It is clear that momentum is with OC Rugby and we need to keep working hard to make sure we continue to hold it.