Patrician Brothers Blacktown have proven well and truly why they are competition favourites, waltzing through to the semi-finals with a 60-6 drubbing of Farrer Memorial Agricultural High at Blacktown on Wednesday.
With an unprecedented five players named in the Australian Schoolboys side last week, the Blacktown side capped the announcement by scoring at better than a point a minute for the entire match, despite missing one of their Australian stars through injury, and resting another two at halftime.
With centre Paul Simona, injured winger Halauafu Lavaka, and forwards Chad McGill, Chris Smith and Pauli Pauli all named in the national side, coach Peter Ross conceded expectations around his side are understandably high, but said the team won’t be getting carried away with their recent success.
“The beauty [of this side] is that we’ve got boys that have worked really hard to get to where they have, so they’ve got very level heads,” he said.
“Chris Smith is a Darwin kid and Chad McGill is a local boy, and they’re very, very level headed kids, and you wouldn’t meet more humble blokes than Pauli and Paul Simona, so they’re trying to lead the team through example and they’ve been outstanding this year.
“They don’t pretend to be prima donnas or elite, they know they’re one of the boys and they’ve got a job to do within the team just like the other boys.”
Skipper and Eels Toyota Cup star McGill echoed Ross’s sentiments after his team’s demolition of Farrer ensured their first semi-final appearance since 2007.
“I’ve been pretty lucky being captain of the side because there’s not a whole lot I’ve got to do to be honest with you," said the local junior who has represented the school since he was thirteen.
"There’s no big heads, everyone shows up to school, they all do their job on the field and that’s all you can ask from them.”
In an ominous sign for their semi-final opponents Holy Cross, Patrician Brothers’ Australian representatives took a backseat to the likes of Panthers SG Ball stars Dallin Watene-Zelezniak and Robert Jennings, brother of NSW centre Michael, who both bagged hat tricks, while five eighth Dylan Izzard slotted eight conversions to claim man of the match honours.
The win for Patrician Brothers sets up a much-anticipated semi-final clash with the Holy Cross College of Ryde, whose trio of Australian Schoolboys Mitchell Moses, Luke Brooks and Bradley Deitz have starred throughout their school’s impressive form at the group stages.
But while Patrician Brothers raced to a 28-0 lead after 18 minutes, their performance midway through the match was marred by a string of contentious shoulder charge penalties, though McGill said his side would not change their tactics ahead of the must win game.
“Sometimes there isn’t time to get arms around in the tackle, but that doesn’t make it a shoulder charge. I’ll be the first to get up the boys if it’s a legitimate shoulder charge, because I’m not one for dirty play, but I can’t really fault them for what they did today.
“There won’t be a change in tactics; we’ve got to stick to our guns," McGill said.
"We’re a big physical side, and playing disciplined is one thing, and staying physical is another, so we’ve got to find the right line between both of them."
Farrer coach Damien Kenniff said that despite the lopsided score line, which was blown out by five tries in the final 10 minutes to Patrician Brothers, his side would be better for the experience after finishing their first season in the elite competition.
“It’s a tough learning curve but that’s why we came up to the first tier… I was very proud of their effort and being the only regional team in the competition is a feather in the cap for the school.”
Patrician Brothers Blacktown 60 (D Watene-Zelezniak 3, R Jennings 3, C McGill, J Folau, S Tonga, C Sopi, P Simona tries; D Izzard 8 goals)
Farrer Memorial Agricultural High 6 (W Gooch try; J Brady goal) at Patrician Brothers No 1. Oval, Blacktown