PICTURE: Stephen Tremain
By Pat McLeod
Men’s First Grade: Bond 19 v UQ 45
BOND University rugby head coach Grant Anderson has questioned his men’s premier team’s desire to play finals football after another second half fade-out, against competition leaders, University of Queensland, at The Canal on Saturday.
Despite the extra prestige of playing for the Brailsford-Brown Varsity Cup, which was held by Bond, the Bull Sharks capitulated in the final 20 minutes, just as they had done against GPS the previous week.
They dropped to fifth place after that loss, with three games left before finals.
At the midway point of the second half in Saturday’s clash, at three tries apiece, Bond was a major chance of forcing a massive upset and putting their team on a solid finals course. However, from the 60th minute the Bull Sharks defence shattered, letting in four tries.
“We were well in the game up until well into the second half, but I don’t think we took the opportunities that came and against a team like UQ, they just hurt you when you do allow constant turnovers,” Anderson said.
“It was a tough loss, but guys just aren’t stepping up and doing the job. Across the board we have to own our errors and work on them during training this week and try to get up for next week.
“The question is now, will the players start to think, ‘are we good enough?’ To be 100 per cent honest, on today’s performance we aren’t good enough to play finals football in this comp.
“It is getting harder and harder to try to grind out wins, but we will try to regroup this week and be up for Wests.
“Every game is a grand final from here. We need to beat Wests and Brothers consecutively and then we play Souths away in the last game.
“If we win all of those then we put ourselves in a position to compete for finals.
“Rugby is played with a lot of desire and I just don’t think we are showing that at the moment. We just don’t have that desire, that relentlessness to play really good football.
“I am really trying to put my finger on how to fix it. The guys have felt a little disjointed over the last couple of weeks and we need to reassess where we are as a team and see what we can work on over the next seven days.
“When the team loses, I put my hand up and say ‘I have not coached them well enough to win’. I take full responsibility for that.
“I have to talk to the players and try to fix the problem. But it is difficult. I am struggling to nail down the issues over why we are not performing. We proved in the early rounds that we can play rugby, but we have not been able to do that in later games.
Anderson said there were some positives, especially around how the players matched their opposition in physicality for a large portion of the game.
“We did have some very good performers,” he said. “Josh Canham (6) had another good game. Nixon Taramai came on and made a difference in the second 40 and Dan Boadman’s defence was good.”
The Bull Sharks came away with three wins on Saturday – Premier Women, men’s Third Grade and Colts 2.
Here’s what each of the other Bull Sharks’ coaches had to say:
Women’s First Grade: Bond 48 v UQ 7
Women’s 15 Head Coach Lawrence Faifua:
“We have started to get our structures right and that is one of the things we have been working hard on … working around getting the one percenters right within those structures.
“Now we will concentrate on the basics. Against UQ our catch and pass, there are still issues. So we are working really hard on technique. We want to try to have that solid structure, that platform that we can always go back to. Then also play what is in front of us.
“We are not a big side. So we counter size with our speed and skill set. We will not always win that forward movement, but what we can do a lot better than most clubs is move the ball from one side of the field to the other. We will work on tiring them out and then once they tire and space opens up and that’s where we come up with points.
“Our best against UQ - I was pretty impressed with Sophie Holyman (7). It was also good to have all our Reds players back and they performed very well, players such as Carola Kreis (6), Lucy Lockhart (8) and Aleena Greenhalgh (4).
“This match was all about getting the team to work together and I think they did that 80% of the time. But I am really proud of the girls and the way they are putting the training into practice on game day.
“We are working towards the finals and trying to ensure that those combos are in place by then.”
Men’s Second Grade: Bond 17 v UQ 20
Bond Second Grade coach Damon Virtue:
“The biggest disappointment from that loss is the fact that it was a missed opportunity. For 50 to 60 minutes we controlled that game, then some ill-discipline piggy-backed them down the field and gave them some momentum. So that was disappointing. Some of our management towards the back end of the game wasn’t the best.
“I thought we were the better side for the majority of that game.
“A disallowed try for us (called touch in-goal) late in the game was pivotal. If we are allowed that try then probably we have the game. So that was a big shift in momentum.
“I think we went too hard at the breakdown towards the end of the game and burnt some defence there. So, there were some holes, mostly that is decision-making under fatigue. We probably needed to stay on our feet more and keep defending.
“However, there were plenty of positives today. We lost by three points and UQ are a very good side. They are a long way ahead on the points table, so the boys will take a lot from that, despite it being a loss. There were a lot of good facets in that game for us.
“Our lineout let us down today and no doubt the wind played a factor in that. We just need to be a little better in some of our decision-making around our set pieces.
“The bottom line is, I know we can beat anyone.
“Our best today were Josiah Tavita (3). He was a monster on the carry. Our backrowers always work hard and Rhian Stowers at nine was very good.
“This week we will concentrate on getting our set pieces right and just some of the management around the football at the back end of the game. We will practice a few scenarios at training and have a good look at the tape.”
Men’s Third Grade: Bond 41 v UQ 21
Bond Third Grade coach Jai Johnson:
“I was very happy with the effort today. We were ahead, they came back at us, then we stepped on the gas again. We then made some substitutions, which all worked really well.
“Across the 22 that took the paddock today, everyone put in and played very well.
“It will be tough for us to make the finals from here. If we did, we would need to win every game with a bonus point and need other results to go our way. That result today knocked UQ out of contention. So, we can certainly cause some upsets on the run into the finals.
“The major role we play for the rest of the season is to win games and set a positive platform for everyone else.
“If third grade is winning then the club is healthy. This is just the second year of this club having a third grade. So, the more we win the healthier the whole club is. Win early and that feeling goes through for the rest of the day.
“Our key goal today was to dominate the set piece and we achieved that. We knew the wind would be a factor today, so we needed to dominate the set pieces for the attack to work off that. Then just support each other, which we did. I also asked for no back-to-back penalties … so two out of three isn’t bad.
“Our best was our entire forward pack, including our bench forwards. It was great to see former TSS player Tanera Nathan run on for the first time this year.
“In the backs, Mitch Currie (10) was really good and Lotawa Gaunadina, who came off the bench and scored a brace of tries.”
Colts 1: Bond 17 v UQ 31
Bond Colts 1 assistant coach Rico Gear:
“That game was a little frustrating, although we did warn the boys before we played UQ that they had been building quite nicely in recent weeks. They are a big, aggressive team.
“We beat them convincingly the last time we met and I said that we could not afford to be complacent because they will come at us aggressively.
“They were more physical than us today and we made more errors. We failed to kick the ball out three times from penalties and against good sides they are not opportunities that you can just throw away.
“Every game at this stage is important with regards to how much pressure you want to put on yourself at the back end of the comp.
“But it just means that we start again. We are still confident we can be there and there is still a fair bit of rugby to be played this season. We will take the learnings from today. A big positive was our set piece. Our scrum has been dominant all year, so it was good to see the referee rewarding us in that area.
“We struck really well off set pieces and the line broke a few times, but then we failed to finish. We need to work on our breakdown because we are just not winning the race there.
“Our best was George Nield (7), who played his normal tough game. Our front row again was very good.”
Colts 2: Bond 25 v UQ 20
Bond Colts 2 coach Mick Barnao:
“That performance has probably cemented our challenge for the finals. The boys knew all week what had to be done. But whether they had it cemented in their heads is another thing. They showed today that they have accepted the challenge.
“So, this is one of the best results all year in respect to what it means to each individual and to the team. They all played very well and our defence was on par with any team in this grade.
“There were a few little mistakes, which we can tidy up on. The main thing we wanted was field position and to come away with three, five or seven points. And we did that for the first half of the second half. That was a big factor.
“And when the pressure was on in the final 10 minutes we dug deep. That showed the character in the team in that they now believe in themselves to go all the way.
“We have now knocked over two of the top teams. Our big task is now Wests next week. They are one of the main hurdles to us going through. But the confidence we take out of today will be massive.
“Our best today was prop Simon Grey, who had a big impact when he came on, returning from injury. His impact, cleaning up and intensity was fantastic. Reegan Chalmers (5) was also very strong, as was hooker Ryven Ewing.
“The pick of our backs was centre Alex Miles - the lines he ran and his defence. Also Tyler Maxwell at fullback was very good.”