Sunday marked step into the unknown as we travelled to the Erskineville Oval to face the South Sydney Rabbitohs S.G Ball squad for the first time in our touring history.
Day 14 – Sunday October 22
On the back of two impressive results, confidence was high but all were expecting a big step up in class from the Bunnies, and all knew the team’s fighting spirit would be crucial to maintain our perfect start.
The game started at a blistering pace with both sides looking to stamp their authority with some thunderous hits.
Evan Bullen, his new front row partner Kian Horridge and the dependable Sam Royle were in the thick of the action early. Though both sides gave away early penalties, the well organised Souths had Saints under pressure early with back to back sets on their goal line, but Saints stood strong organised well by fullback Tom Nisbet and the busy Paul Nash and his pack of forwards.
Saints came up with the ideal response with Kelvin Taylor and John Hutchings carrying the ball strong before Captain Jack Welsby cleverly jinxed his way over the line to score the opening try.
Josh Simms converting to make it 6-0.
From the kick off, the outside backs again made great yards, with Jake Wingfield finishing the set with a high spiral bomb. This was spilt by Souths’ number 5 and from the resultant set Wingfield found Ben Sims with a smart pass for the strong running back row to storm in for Saints’ second try.
Though looking shell-shocked the Souths were in no mood to fall away, and this was soon living up to being Saints biggest test so far.
Hutchings and Royle were proving hard to handle with Wingfield and Welsby pulling the strings and looking dangerous.
Punishing some Souths indiscipline once again was Taylor and Hutchings, with the very impressive Brandon Scully coming off the bench and carrying the ball strongly to the heart of the South defence. Thomas Nisbet and Jake Wingfield then combined to send Josh Simm in to score to leave it 14-0 at the break.
The second half saw Saints on the scoreboard early with the hard working Joe Sharratt running a great line to buy time for Ryan Horne to thread a short kick through the Souths’ defence for Matty Foster to cross.
The game continued with both teams exchanging strong sets – Saints’ desperate defence holding up the clever Souths 9 and the big strong Souths 14 over the tryline.
But it was again great ball movement on the back of a Hutchings charge that allowed Jack Welsby to show great footwork and power to score the game’s final try, converted by Josh Simm.
Final score, Saints 26 Souths 0.
Saints Head Coach Derek Traynor said: “This was a very tough game against a very strong and powerful forward pack. It was a great achievement and very pleasing to see the lads keep Souths to nil after a lot of work has been done by the coaching staff on our goal line defence during the build up to the game.
“The players definitely put it into practice, defending our line for repeated sets on numerous occasions.
“The ability to attack in this squad is there in abundance and the players are now showing that they have the defence, determination, desire and team spirit to match it. This is up there with the best wins we have had on any tour so far.
“The lads are happy there in the sheds and now have a few days to recover. Our attention turns to next weekend as we now need to prepare well for the toughest test of all, Penrith Panthers at the Pepper stadium.”
Jack Welsby, Saints Captain, added: “It was a real top encounter against a big tough side who enjoyed the contact up the middle. I thought as a team we battled well and competed in the arm wrestle for long periods but our ruthlessness in attack was the big difference.
“Overall I am happy with my form and just want to get even better for our final game.”
Best and Fairest John Hutchings commented: “I thought it was a tough game but I’m glad to get the win, I was happy with how I carried the ball and I felt really strong.
“I just think moving forward working hard on my edge defence will be key in our next game both for me and the team.”
1- Tom Nisbet; 2- Kelvin Taylor, 3- Sean Croston, 4- Josh Simm, 5- John Hutchings; 6- Jack Welsby, 7- Jake Wingfield; 8- Evan Bullen, 9- Paul Nash, 10- Kian Horridge, 11- Matty Foster, 12- Ben Sims, 13- Sam Royle.
Subs: Luke Maloney-Ward, Brandon O’Neill, Christian Kellett, Ryan Horne, Kian Horridge, Kye Siyani, Reece Jackson, Jamie Little, Brandon Scully.
Award Winners – selected by the opposition coaching staff
- Best and Fairest – John Hutchings
Our coaching staff also presented award to Christian Kellett to recognise his strong performance.