QLD GPS: In-Form Churchie “Quietly Confident” As They Prepare For Tough Challenge At Ross Oval
By Finn Morton; Photo – Stephen Tremain
Anglican Church Grammar’s first XV is a team in-form yet they’ve flown under the radar in 2019. After starting the season with back-to-back losses against BBC and TSS, Churchie went on to draw, before winning the rest of their games – which brings us to round 9.
In the final round of the 2019 season, and for some their final game in their schoolboy colours, Churchie prepares for one of if not the toughest challenge in GPS rugby: Nudgee at Ross Oval.
They may boast the longest current winning streak in the competition, yet Churchie are still the underdogs heading into this weekends match, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t up to the challenge. Coach Dale Roberson is “quietly confident” that his side can pull off an upset on Saturday.
“We’re seeing it as an opportunity for the players to get a good judge of where their season is at. We started against what has turned out to be the two top teams and then finished with the other of the big three. You want the challenges I reckon and the boys are seeing it that way. It’ll be a good test,” said Roberson.
“That’s been a big theme during the week [final game in schoolboy rugby]. It’s the same at every school, kids in year twelve playing their last game. We’ve really made a big thing of that to try and send our year twelves out with a performance that they’re proud of and can look back on. It’s an important game for them.
“If you look at the fixtures before the season kicks off, you’d always look at playing Nudgee away as your hardest game of the year. But, as it turns out TSS and BBC have also proved to be very hard games. But Nudgee at Nudgee, it probably doesn’t get much tougher I don’t think.
“We’re under no illusions that it’s a big challenge, but we just can’t go in there thinking that it’s a challenge that can’t be met. We’re going there with the attitude that we can take it to them and if we perform well on the day, we’ll just see what happens from there.”
Nudgee is one of the best-attacking sides in the competition, averaging just under forty-points a match, but Roberson is fully aware of how dangerous they can be when they get going.
He suggested that the key to winning against a team like Nudgee is pressure, with a focus on the start and discipline being “the two main things we spoke about leading into this game.”
“Well it’s very hard [to contain Nudgee] with the threats they have; they’re a balanced team from the front row all the way to the back three. I think the keys are when you play a good team you just to starve them of quality ball, that’s probably one of the main areas for us.
“The start is really important, and discipline has been a key all year. We’ve found that we’ve been able to apply pressure, but if we release it, it gives them a chance to kick it out of their territory and get into areas of the field that we don’t want them in.
“They can handle good amounts of play against them, but maybe when it all doesn’t go their way then you get an opportunity to put them under pressure that they haven’t been under before.
“Reesjan [Pasitoa] can either kick territory wise to put them in great positions to attack from and then you’ve got the threat of penalty kicks for goal. It’s double-edged for us, you don’t want to be giving away penalties anywhere on the field with such a threat like that player.”
Churchie may be one of the competitions in-form teams right now, but Roberson and his squad know that they’ll have to continue to improve for Saturday’s fixture.
“We’ve managed to win four wins in a row and a draw before that, and we had the two losses to start the season, so it’s been a credit to the players to the players. They’ve shown quite an amount of resilience and have stuck to the process which has been around building a game-plan to make us competitive.
“I’m super proud of how they’ve done that, but it’s important to take that into this week as well, and finish with a good performance.”