PICTURE: Stephen Tremain
By Pat McLeod
Men’s First Grade: Bond 23 v GPS 34
A VITAL try to captain Dan Boardman in the 80th minute may not have secured a win against GPS on Saturday, but the resulting bonus point has kept Bond in the top four of the Allsports Physiotherapy Hospital Challenge Cup.
Bond fell 34-23 away to The Gallopers and dropped from third to fourth place on the ladder. They are now on 36 points, just ahead of Wests (5th on 36 points) on for and against.
Brothers toppled Norths 57-14 to jump into third spot.
Bond Head Coach Grant Anderson said he could not be disappointed in his team’s performance against second-placed GPS, but certainly came away frustrated.
“I have so much respect for this squad of players,” he said. “I don’t get disappointed in what they do, but I do get frustrated with them because I see the ability that they have and when they don’t show that ability it is frustrating.
“Sure, I am disappointed to lose a game of rugby, but more frustrated in that we don’t perform to our potential. That is what frustrates the hell out of me.
“At half time we were in a position to go on with it. At the start of the second half Tasi (Tautalatasi Tasi) belts the ball 60 metres down field, then we give away a silly penalty and we are defending for the next 20 minutes.
“Jeeps are a good side, so you cannot take anything away from them. That first half today is as good as any rugby you will see in the Premier Grade this year - from both teams. It was physical, fast and highly skilful. It is a real testament to the level of rugby being played.
“We just made too many individual errors and gave too many penalties that allowed Jeeps to really challenge us, which resulted in tries. The players need to take ownership and improve in those areas.
“Our decision-making when we have the ball or at the breakdown or at set pieces can improve.
“It is a mental thing with our players - mistakes made under fatigue. The fact that we pressured right to the final bell to score a try and get the bonus point was outstanding by the team. They could have packed up, but they knew how crucial that bonus point would be at the end of the season.”
The Bull Sharks shot away to a 10-0 lead early in the opening stanza with tries to fullback Byron Hutchinson and winger Dion Samuela. However, The Gallopers fought back into the contest, wrestling the lead off Bond.
The Bull Sharks ensured they were in the second half hunt when they went into the break down just 19-18.
Jeeps snuck further ahead with a try in the 50th minute and another (a penalty try) to push out to 31-18.
Boardman’s late try closed the scoring at 34-23 and earnt the bonus point.
Crucially, GPS were awarded two penalty tries in the match.
“I was really impressed with our defensive effort considering how much defence we had to do,” said Anderson.
“We have focused on that in recent weeks and the players have responded to that. GPS only scored three tries outside the two penalty tries. So that was one very pleasing aspect of the game.
“Our best were Dan Boardman (13), Byron Hutchinson (15) and I was impressed with newcomer Josh Canham (4), who showed what a real competitor he is.”
The Bull Sharks came away from GPS on Saturday with four wins. Premier Grade Women, Second Grade and both Colts teams were victorious.
Here’s what each of the other Bull Sharks’ coaches had to say:
Women’s First Grade: Bond 20 v GPS 17
Women’s 15 Head Coach Lawrence Faifua:
“The girls played really well. Defensively they stood up.
“For about 10 to 20 minutes we were pretty dominant, but we kept letting GPS back into the game with our restart. They would kick to us and we would drop it, or something similar. That is an area we need to look at.
“Once we score, we have to look at getting the ball back into the opposition’s half.
“We are now concentrating on combinations because we have had so many players off on representative duties and now they have come back.
“We just have to re-adjust. But that is rugby and you just have to work on it and get the combinations going before the finals. Do that and the winning takes care of itself.
“Our best on Saturday were Madi Schuck (front row), Shannon Symon (6) and Lucy Lockhart (8). Shannon is only 16 and is a real talent.”
Men’s Second Grade: Bond 19 v GPS 18
Bond Second Grade coach Damon Virtue:
“We won on the last play of the game.
“It came off repeated penalties and then via a scrum and then we worked a bit of pick and go and then went to the edge where winger Marika Rokotunaceva went over for the try.
“It is nice to win in the end. Not great for the ticker … but a win.
“I was really happy with the amount of composure that we showed late in the game. It was a tight encounter and we really needed to work on our field position, which we did very well. We showed a lot of cool, calm heads against a very good side.
“Although we have players coming up and down with the injury issues that we have experienced this season, there are about five players who are consistent each week and they are the core of our side and show a lot of leadership. I’m talking about players including Lloyd Johansson (12) and Justin Bernstein (10) as well as forwards such as Tylor Bunting, who had another good game today. They are the cool heads that I am referring to.
“Our tight five were exceptional. We pushed them all over the park in the final 10 minutes, which was very pleasing.
“It is always tough to come to GPS and get a win. They were equal second on the ladder, which makes this win even better. We get momentum and a psychological boost out of today.
“We have now knocked GPS over twice this year. We have a tough one next week against UQ, who are top of the table. But we go into that game without any fear.
“Our best was second rower Sean Finigan. He won a lot of clean ball today and his workrate was phenomenal. And of course our front three were awesome - Helaman Samuela, Tyrell Kopua and Josiah Tavita.
Men’s Third Grade: Bond 0 v GPS 31
Bond Third Grade coach Jai Johnson:
“Injuries had a lot to do with the result. We are back-logging every other grade and having to rely heavily on Colts. Without Colts we had just 16 fit players.
“We had players playing out of position, like a front rower playing second row for the first time in his life. So, we were very makeshift.
“We did not start well and all of a sudden we were down 12 points and it is hard to come back from that on a windy day.
“There is still plenty to achieve this year for Third Grade. You have to ensure that should any of our players get the call to Second Grade that they are ready to go.
“There was a very good point made after the match. GPS Third grade has been around for a lot of decades. This is our second year. So, we are concentrating on building the player base and building the skill base. And we have to ensure we continue playing with pride.
“And we are already doing that. On Thursday night Ando (Head Coach Grant Anderson), Luka (Bond Rugby Director Luka Liussi) and I had the discussion around whether we would forfeit because of the injury toll. But thanks to the players we were able to put a team on the park.
“We picked up some Colts 2 Reserves after they had played and then sat on the bench, so we had 22, including 17-year-old boys playing for us.
“I think that says a lot about the playing group and their pride in this club.
“Our best were our captain, Max Booth (7), who was outstanding, Ben Evans (8), who showed great leadership and our bookends – Andictor Petelo and Vili Apelu Fenunuti.”
Colts 1: Bond 20 v GPS 17
Bond Colts 1 coach Brenden Jones:
“We won ugly and were not as clinical as we should be. It was a real see-sawing game and we got up right at the death.
“We are still making too many mistakes. We just couldn’t kick the ball out. It was so windy and gusty and as a result we just couldn’t get any momentum or field position and so defended for a lot of the game.
“At the end of the day it was our scrum that won the game for us. We had a penalty try late in the game from a scrum. But our scrum dominated all day.
“We just came up with too many skill mistakes. We are on the cusp of putting teams away and playing some really good footy, but we are just stopping six or seven plays short.
“We are working on that and getting better as we move towards the finals. By the time we get to the finals we should be right.
“Our better players today were the front three – Matt Ziedler, who came on early and played two games, Tyrone Albertyn and Aisea Aholelei. They were exceptional. Our halfback Ezekeil Stewart led the team well around the park.”
Colts 2: Bond 33 v GPS 5
Bond Colts 2 coach Mick Barnao:
“We trained well during the week. There was a lot of positive talk and the boys knew the direction we had to take if we are to make the finals. That finals goal has sunk in finally and they know what they have to do.
“It was a great start. We came out and executed.
“Our defence was the key. Except for GPS scoring a sneaky try down the blindside, our defence held tight all match.
“We could have worked harder at getting over the ball at the breakdown, but otherwise, our scrambling defence, our communication in defence was relentless – especially in the first half when we had the wind against us and we went to the break up 14-0.
“This is a key result leading into the game against UQ next weekend.
“There were a number of outstanding players. Alex Miles (centre) - his defence and carries were exceptional. Our Number 10, Josh Radcliffe’s kicking and decision-making was spot-on. He ran our game very well.
“Reegan Chalmers returned at Number 8 for his first full game after a spell on the sidelines with a knee injury. He was good all around the park. His line-speed, his talk – everything about his game today was very good. It was great to have him back after he was such a leader and an inspiration last season.”