Rugby matches against JPC are always gladiatorial contests. Playing away from home there could be no greater arena than the pristine fields at Cec Munns Sporting Complex. Expectations were high going into the six clashes, with the coaching panel confident of securing three victories, if not more. For the Year 7 and Year 9 teams it was an opportunity to continue their undefeated runs, whilst for the Year 8 and Year 10 teams it was do or die after losses last weekend against WestMAC.
The Year 7 team have been the surprise packet this season, winning all of their matches comfortably and scoring at least four tries and the bonus point along the way. From the outset it seemed that this momentum would stay with them as they raced out to a 35-5 lead against JPC by half-time. Darcy O’Brien and Aaron Fisher led the way with two tries apiece, whilst Louie Ward grabbed one as well. The half-time address was focused on making sure complacency didn’t set in, but unfortunately the boys took their foot off the gas letting JPC score four second half tries, leaving the OC spectators with hearts in their mouths. The catalyst for the JPC comeback was some poor defense by the backs, with the forwards having to make far too many cover tackles. With both teams having scored five tries the OC boys were thankful to have the trusty boot of goal-kicker Harrison Kovacic, who got them home 35-29.
Last year our Year 8 team was left shell-shocked by a JPC side that amassed 47 points against them. Knowing that their season lay on the line, the boys took to the field determined to make a stand. In a titanic arm-wrestle Ormiston took it up to their highly-rated opponents but ultimately fell short, losing 14-12. Sam Farrar and Braith Watkins scored the tries for OC, but it was to no avail as JPC managed two tries of their own, converting both. Despite overwhelming feelings of disappointment and ‘what might have been’ this team needs to look at the improvement they have made in one year, especially in defense where they have reduced the 2015 deficit by 33 points.
The Year 9s had never lost to JPC, but knew that this was not going to be an easy contest. An ill-disciplined first half by the boys saw them constantly on the back foot, as JPC grabbed a 7-0 lead going into the break. After the break the boys struck back quickly with Sam Speedie scoring from long range. At 7-7 the game was there for the taking but unfortunately Ormiston again let the game slip. JPC grabbed two second half tries, and Ormiston could only respond with one through Max Payne, the final score reading 21-14 in JPC’s favour. The boys were left bitterly disappointed after the game, frustrated at the number of penalties awarded against them by the referee. Officiating is not easy, and whilst the referee may have had a bad day at the office, the boys need to know that they need to be so good that the referee does not become a factor. The same referee was in charge of the Year 10 match, which was won handsomely by OC.
For the Year 10 team the loss of Gus Moloney during the week to a hamstring injury was offset by the return of Brock Kurz from Met East Rugby League duties. The boys were determined to harness their second half performance from the week before against WMAC and make a statement on JPC’s main field. In the early exchanges Ormiston took time to adjust to the referee’s interpretations as JPC had all the early running. When Ormiston repelled JPC for the umpteenth time, a counter attack saw Brock Kurz race away to score. From the ensuing kick-off Jackson Kovacic repeated the dose with a long-range effort of his own. Another two tries from Brock before the half saw Ormiston grab complete control of the match and a four-try bonus point. The second half proved to be much the same as another three tries were run in, with Brock grabbing his fourth and fifth for the match. Noah Christie was also the beneficiary of some good hands in the backline with a try late in the match. The final score of 43-0 reminded us all of the potential in this side.
The Second XV got off to a cracking start, commanding field position and possession. This allowed Ryan Johnston to slice through out wide and give OC an early lead. Unfortunately, this seemed to wake the sleeping JPC giant, as they proved far too strong from the remainder of the fixture running out 57-5 victors. Whilst there were moments of promise in this match the Seconds boys know they were well and truly beaten. One positive to come from the match was the return from injury of Hudson King, who should add a great deal of experience to their young backline.
The First XV season has been a bumpy one to say the least. Coming up against JPC is never an easy task, and with five regular starting players on the sideline, Ormiston’s backs were up against the wall. The boys began the match well, heeding the coach’s advice to ‘chop’ low in the tackles. There was also some promising attack, with Henry Long running some superb ‘bullet’ lines. Unfortunately, the might of JPC was too much to handle as their forward pack rolled in and their speedy backs capitalised out wide. A clever try at the end of the match from Ben Pimley off a maul would prove the only joy for OC as JPC ran out comfortable 54-7 victors. Jackson Smith, Henry Long and Zane Stock were lauded for their efforts in the match, but to beat JPC you need 15 young men firing on all cylinders. Sadly, for OC, this was not the case.
Next we travel to Canterbury for what should be another challenging round of fixtures. The Year 7 team will hope to continue as the flag bearers for OC Rugby with another win, whilst the Year 9 team are sure to come out looking to avenge their Round 5 loss. The Year 8s had the upper hand in 2015 and will look to do so again in 2016. The Year 10 team had a narrow loss in 2015, but given their recent form should be eyeing this fixture off as one they could win in 2016. The First XV and Second XV welcome back a number of players this weekend, and will be hopeful of returning to the winners’ circle.