Australia 2007 - Sapperrugby Tri Nations - 6 - 21 May 07
Our training base was HMAS Penguin a small Naval base on the north east of Sydney in the Mossman province.It turned out to be an ideal location with good training facilities, good accomodation and messing and a very helpful medical facility.
Sapperrugby v 'The Sydney Sappers'
Having landed at 5 am on Tuesday morning, following a 24 hr journey a intensive run out was probably the last thing on the players minds. Director of Rugby Rich Garrett and his coaching staff of Andy Sanger, Gareth Evans and Tony Cheadle had different ideas. Having recieved an induction briefing and a light lunch the team headed to the training pitch for a 'game of touch', two hours later and probably a bit more contact then they required they were ready for a good sleep! Wednesday produced a split scession in the morning with a team run in the afternoon and Thursday was upon us before the jet lag had set in.The game was played at the home of the Australian Engineer School, Steele Barracks and thankfully a cloudy but warm afternoon greated the teams.
The game took a while to get any rythem, many of the touring party had not played together for some time and indeed the Sydney Sappers hardly knew each others names! After period of exchanges between the forwards and threes it was the UK Sappers through Justin Rogers that opened the scoring with a penalty, and it was apparent that the Sapperrrugby pack were getting the advantage for their opposite numbers, Teiko Baleilautoka playing at 8 was making some impressive yardage from the base of the scrum. However after 12 minutes the scores were level with a successful Sydney penalty. After 30 minutes though the UK Sappers did cross the line, H Hudson finished off a succession of powerful forward drives to increase the lead to 8-3. Seven minutes later Teiko Baleilautoka crossed the line to take the score to 13 - 3 just before half time and just before half time the referee decided to yellow card two Sapperrugby players for repeated infringements. Halftime score 13-3 to Sapperrugby.
The second half started with the Sydney sappers determined to make the two man advantage count, the sapper defence was well drilled throughout and it was only after considerable pressure that they crossed the line to make it 13-8. Captain for the day Vic Reeve came close just being stopped before he crossed the line however it was Matt Webster that put the next points on the scoreboard for the UK Sappers, with Vic Reeve converting the score moved to 20-8. Vic Reeve then added a penalty before crossing the try line himself to take the final score to 28-8. This was a good opening game for us, the Sydney sappers played with pride and never gave up, rehab and team run for the Australia Army A in less then 48 hours, surely a game too soon for some tired bodies.
Man of the match – Teiko Baleilautoka for a great display of power running from the base of the scrum.
Sapperrugby Team 1.Max Maxwell 2.Raz Erasmus 3. Nathan Young 4.H Hundson 5. Rob Taylor 6. John Auld 7. Pras Prasadd 8. Teiko Baleilautoka 9. Matt Pritchard 10. Justin Rogers 11.Andy Hurran 12. Matt Webster 13. Frazer Deeming 14. Vic Reeve (Captain)15. Adi Stander Replacements: Garry Windle, Ian Black, Rich Warmington, Gilly Gill, Chris Shorter and Bokka Viljeon.
Sapperrugby v The Australian Army A
Having been in the country for only five days we now faced our second game of rugby; the opponents on this warm Saturday afternoon were the Australian Army A team, a selection of the Army’s up and coming stars who were fit, skilful and strong and who were joining the senior team to prepare for the game the following week against the British Army. The pitch was much bigger than the one at SME and would be a test for both teams defence and allow the backs to expand their running game. The coaching staff had picked a different team that played the Sydney Sappers and although some were playing their first game others were facing their second start within two days.
The Australian Army kicked off playing up a slight slope with the sun in their eyes and from the opening few exchanges we knew this was going to be a sterner test from that of Thursday, the pace was faster and the hits bigger, however both teams showed that they were going to utilise the wide pitch with the wingers seeing a lot of the ball in the opening 15 minutes.
It was the Sappers that put the first points on the board, the referee penalising the Australian back line for offside and with Chris Shorter slotting the points made it 3 – 0. The Australian Army however were finding their running lines and it took some big hits from the sappers defence to keep them out. Sadly Dave Goddard had to leave the field after 25 minutes with a rib injury and was replaced by Teiko Baleilautoka . Shortly afterward the Sappers were penalised for hands in the ruck and after a successful penalty the scores were level after 32 minutes 3-3. Within two minutes the Australians had taken the lead with some well worked phases; their right winger crossed in the corner to make it 3-8. The conversion was unsuccessful.
After considerable pressure by the Australian Army Garry Windle rallied his team for one ‘last effort’ of the half. Forwards and backs combined to push the Australian Army onto their 5 mtr line and after numerous waves of attack it was Phil Rowlands that smashed over to level the score on the stroke of half time. 8-8.
The Sappers were visibly tired, was two games in such a short time frame of stepping off a marathon journey too much? The Australia army were fresh and made 6 replacements in an effort to run the Sappers into the ground. Thankfully as the second half got underway the strong sun that had shone into the eyes of the Australians had just about gone, dusk wasn’t far away. The Australian Army started off attacking well, combining some slick hands stretching the Sappers tired legs, the display of the second half was testament to why we presently are the Army Corps Champions. The Sappers put in some huge hits, often two or three individuals taking out the attackers, after 15 minutes the scores were still locked at 8-8, however from the sides you sensed that the Sappers were getting their second wind, Ritchie Warmington and Garry Windle were starting to make inroads into the Australian defence and in the backs Rhydian Slade Jones replaced Chris Shorter and with ‘Bokka’ moving to 10 our wings Vic Reeve and Adi Stander were seeing much more of the ball. It was a break from Vic Reeve that pushed well into the 22 that saw several phases of forward pressure with Garry Windle eventually forcing his way over the line on 26 minutes, with Bokka converting saw the Sappers take a 15-8 lead.
The Australians as we knew they would had not finished, they continued to push, however previously tired Sapper legs found extra strength and gave a fantastic display of pride and passion, the self belief was there to see and when Bokka converted a penalty to push the score to 18-8 on 36 minutes the game was done.
This was indeed a performance that ranked with that of the merit league final, a team effort that displayed great resolve and character. One to go.
Sapperrugby 1. Ian Black. 2 Garry Windle (Captain).3. Phil Rowlands. 4 Rob Taylor. 5 Joe Ukiledieukie. 6 Richie Warmington. 7 Dave Goddard. 8 Luke Rockovardo. 9.Gilly Gill. 10 Chris Shorter. 11 Adi Stander. 12 Darrell Ball. 13 Carl Abraham. 14 Adi Stander. 15 Eugine Viljeon. 16. Max Maxwell. 17 Raz Erasmus. 18 Jon Auld. 19 Frazer Deeming. 20. Teiko Baleitiko. 20 Matt Pritchard. 21. Nathan Young 22. Pras Prasard.
Sapperrugby v The Royal Australia Engineers
Sapperrugby returned to Steele Barracks for our third and final game, and for us the most important game, the Inter Corps game for the Hesco Bastion Tri Nations Corps Cup against the Australian Royal Engineers, unlike our previous visit the weather was hot, around 24 degrees and it would be a test of our fitness and preparation. The Australian sappers kicked off playing right to left and from the first few exchanges it was evident that both teams wanted to run the ball in ideal conditions. Rob Taylor was showing why he had been selected by the Army A team winning several lineout balls on opposition throw. Vic Reeve missed an opening penalty for offside in midfield but it was not a sign of things to come from him. From turnover ball in the 22 the Australian Sappers broke deep into the opposition 22 and from a resulting penalty narrowly missed the chance to open the scoring after an across field kick went long. This seemed to give them belief and several penetrating runs tested the Sapper defence. The tension and occasion was getting to both sides, neither wanted to give a score and there were big hits in defence from both teams; both came close to crossing the line but it was the Australian sappers that had the slight advantage as the half progressed.
It wasn’t until the 31st minute following a lineout offence that the Australian sappers took the lead from a well converted penalty, two minutes later they were a man short following foul play and a yellow card.and four minutes later following a close scrum, Tekio Baleilautoka picked up and was stopped just short and the ball was recycled for Adi Stander to cross from close in to make it 5 – 3 and with Vic Reeve adding the conversion the UK Sappers led at half time 7-3.
After two minutes of the restart Vic Reeve kicked a good penalty from the 10 mtr line to increase the lead to 10-3. Five minutes later following a good sequence of play from within their 22 the Sappers were awarded a penalty inside the Australian 22, a good catch and drive by Rob Taylor saw skipper Garry Windle collect the ball at the base of the maul and drove over, with Vic Reeve again kicking the extras from close to the touchline the UK Sappers now led 17 – 3. The Sapper scrum was starting to put extreme pressure on the Aussie scrum, following a penalty for a scrummage offence Vic Reeve again added 3 points to stretch the lead to 20-3. It was the same person that then added another seven points after a good recycled lineout and a great running line put him under the posts to make it 27-3. Five minutes later Tekio Baleilautoka added an additional five from a push over scrum and the contest was over at 32-3. Andy Sanger put on his bench for the last ten minutes and as often occurs when so many changes are made some continuity was lost and to their credit the Australian Sappers crossed the line twice in the last five minutes to make the final score 32-15.
Vic Reeve was named man of the match for his great goal kicking display and great try. The victor in all aspects though was Sapperrugby in the global sence; a shared vision by Managers Chris Fowke and Don Philpots had been completed, 18 months of planning had resulted in a fine contest and we look forward to welcoming the Australian Sappers (and the Kiwi Sappers if they can be bothered, to the UK in 2009 for round two). Finally Captain Garry Windle and youngest tourist Rhydian Slade Jones collected the trophy at the after match dinner from our sponsor Jonathan Bird of Hesco Bastion.Our sincere thanks to Hesco for all that they have provided to us over the last 18 months; without their support we would not be where we are today - Inter Corps Continent Champions.......
Sapperrugby 1. Ian Black. 2 Garry Windle (Captain).3. Carl Maxwell. 4 Rob Taylor. 5. John Auld6 Richie Warmington. 7 Pras Prasadd. 8 Teiko . 9.Gilly Gill. 10 Bokka Viljeon. 11 Adi Stander. 12 Darrell Cooper. 13 Carl Abraham. 14 Vic Reeve. 15 Rhydian Slade Jones. 16. Nathan Young. 17 Raz Erasmus. 18 Joe Ukiledieukie. 19 Frazer Deeming. 20. Phil Rowlands. 20 Matt Pritchard. 21. Andy Hurran 22. Luke Rockovardo.
Report By Chris Fowke