At 1:00pm tomorrow rugby’s two traditional heavyweights, Queensland and New South Wales will battle out for the 45th Australian Schools Championship at St Ignatius College, Riverview.
Form in recent years has been in stark contrast to each other though. NSW I sides have only missed the final once since 2011, winning five of them. Queensland I by comparison has only been to the big dance three times in the last eight years.
Of these three, the only time they took the BH (JIKA) TRAVERS TROPHY home was in 2011 when Wallaby #919, Caleb Timu was running around in schoolboy colours. This year it’s his brother Keenan’s chance to replicate that success.
Timu who comes from the rugby league nursery Marsden State High is captaining the Queensland side in 2019 with the number six on his back. Aside from scoring a try of his own in each game he’s led his side well getting on top early in both fixtures.
Queensland’s strength this tournament has certainly lay in their backs. Flyhalf, Max Plath who scored a nice double yesterday alongside the long jumper from the Sunshine Coast, Jonte Connolly at inside centre who scored a double in the first match.
Jasper Mellish from Sienna Catholic College on the Sunshine Coast also proved very reliable with the boot for Queensland with a 100% kicking record. This is something that may prove invaluable tomorrow as the last time these two teams met in the final (2015) Queensland missed a penalty on fulltime to hand the victory to their southern counterparts.
In last week’s camp the Queensland squad lost three front rowers including barraging prop Emerson Treasure from St Joseph’s, Gregory Terrace. As a result, their scrum has come under pressure at times particularly in the first half yesterday against Combined States. This will become a target area for the NSW I side.
The sky blues have also been effective out wide, repeatedly drawing the ACT defence in before going around them in their semi-final.
NSW Captain Lachlan Albert will be eager to make sure this is continued as he runs onto his home ground, St Ignatius College, Riverview at scrum-half.
Today, Albert’s side ventured out to Bondi Iceberg’s and the pool lived up to its name. Tomorrow they will be looking to freeze Queensland I out of the game in the same way they stopped the Queensland II’s side from scoring on Tuesday in their 27 – 0 victory.
Last Sunday, 2018 NSW Schools graduate and recent Junior Wallaby Joey Walton presented the NSW teams with their threads on the invitation of coach Lachlan White. Walton, who’s entire starting XV made Australian sides last year emphasised at the jersey presentation the importance of doing the little things right and working together as a team.
So far, there have been plenty of examples of this and they will need to demonstrate it again tomorrow.
The matchup on Field 1 at Riverview will be a big battle. Many tipped the Queensland team would not perform well but they have gone and proved otherwise. Likewise, NSW have dealt with the pressure that comes with being a successful entity.
The Sky Blues deserve to go into tomorrow’s game as favourites but Queensland should not be discounted. If 2015’s epic interstate final or Wednesday night’s State of Origin was anything to go by this clash could be one for the ages.
Kick-off is at 1:00pm and the match will be streamed live via the Australian Schools Rugby Facebook page.
|8:30||7th/8th Playoff||Cavaliers Barbarians vs Victoria|
|9:45||Girls Invitational Schools Sevens||NSWSRU 1 VS NSWSRU 2|
|10:15||5th/6th Playoff||NSW II vs Queensland II|
|11:25||3rd place play off||Combined States vs ACT|
|12:40||Girls Invitational Schools Sevens||NSWSRU 1 VS NSWSRU 2|
|13:00||FINAL||Queensland I vs NSW I|
Article produced by Alec Camplin