NEWSLETTER 10, 2023
I hope you are well and had a good week
In Round 8 last Saturday, it was almost another green sweep with 6 wins from 7 v West Harbour – with 4 victories in Grade at Concord and 2 Colts wins at Coogee. Only 3rd Colts, who just went down by 5 points, didn’t get the bikkies on a big day for the Wicks, with the only one happy at that loss was our notoriously tight club treasurer - narrowly avoiding a club shout for a clean sweep.
1st Grade escaped with a last minute penalty goal to roll a very brave Pirates team to reclaim the Suttons Cup. In all honesty, whilst were we relieved to escape with a win, it was probably our most frustrating performance of the year and there were no joyous scenes at fulltime or in the sheds. We know we have to be much better if we are going to be a legitimate title contender in 2023.
Read Coaches Corner with insightful match reports from all the Pirates games from the coaches, some highlight videos and Ric’s photos from Concord. As usual all Ric’s photos are also on our website in our galleries area - so Click here to view them.
The challenge for 1st Grade this week is to win 4 games in a row and we get this opportunity in Round 9 against Eastwood on Saturday at Coogee Oval which is fittingly Back to Randwick Day. All Grade matches are at Coogee and all our Colts games are at TG Milner.
Our good friend Joe Hayes from Wexted Advisors will be our match day sponsor for Round 9 and I’m sure will take a keen interest in his new employee and newly elected Fire Warden - our very own 1st Grade hooker Ben Sugars.
We would really love to see everyone down at Coogee Oval this Saturday for Back to Randwick Day, celebrating our club's fabulous achievements, wonderful players and contributors over our proud history. The 2023 cohort want to create their own future legacy so get along, get behind them and get loud in support of our boys against the Woodies.
In terms of this history, the years ending in a 3 were a tad quieter, when looking at our premiership winning teams and club championship anniversaries. However, success goes back 90 years to 1933 4th Grade. I imagine Joe Picone was still in charge back then.
A very final reminder that our Club Ex-Player Reunion is being held this Friday night, May 26 at Clovelly Surf Club from 5pm – if you still want to go CLICK HERE to get your tickets. I’m not expecting any takers from the 1933 or 43 premiership teams, but surely some more of our slightly more recent folks my want to join in.
On Sunday, we also have our young Randwick Magic Girls back in action at North Curl Curl for Round 2 of the Sydney Women’s Rugby 7’s Series. So, we look forward to their progression.
Last week, we were also busy off the field and pleased to help host Super Rugby team, the Fijian Drua at Crowne Plaza, Coogee and also have them train up at Latham Park in their preps to face the Waratahs. Plus, our Junior Academy had their fundraising lunch at the Coogee Legion Club and a good day was had by all, plus they raised a nice quid, so thanks to all those that supported them.
Good luck to all our teams in Round 9 and the ladies. Up the Wicks!
First Grade were looking for 3 consecutive wins as we headed out to the inner west to face West Harbour. After a positive week of training, we arrived at the the brand-new Concord Oval complex confident we could get a result but wary of a much-improved Pirates side.
Within the first few minutes we had created multiple try scoring opportunities, but we failed to capitalise, after struggling to hit the mark on that last pass on at least 3 occasions.
We had plenty of possession and territory early, but through a lack of execution and solid defensive pressure from the Pirates there was still no score over 20 minutes in. Against the run of play, West broke the deadlock from a clever maul set up, exploiting our defence which was not up to scratch to combat it.
We hit back soon after with a well put together maul of our own and we hit the sheds down 7-5.
Collectively, we were not happy at the break (well there was some yelling from the rooms one could hear) and it was highlighted that our lack of patience in attack and lack of aggression in the tackle and contact, were the key areas to focus on.
We showed much more resilience in the second half and while it again went down to the wire, we were pleased with our ability to come from behind. This time it was due to a scrum penalty earnt by our reserve front row, which allowed Coby Miln to kick a match wining penalty goal from 35 metres out. We then held on for a final anxious stanza of play to win 22-19 and regain the Suttons Cup, which both clubs vie for and got it presented to us by Mr Sutton's himself - Pat Borg.
There were plenty of valuable lessons learned and we know we will have to be way better this week, if we are going to challenge a red-hot Eastwood side, who put on 66 points on the Rats.
Knowing it’s Back to Randwick Day on Saturday at Coogee Oval, our guys are well aware that there will be plenty of familiar faces and old boys in the crowd cheering us on. Hopefully, by 4.50pm they will have a smile on their face and be proud of their First-Grade side, that gets the honour of representing them. Up the Wicks!
1st Grade Head Coach
2nd Grade ventured out to the brand new Concord facility to take on the West Harbour Pirates and also gaze in awe upon the tallest rugby posts in the Southern Hemisphere - guessing about 40 metres!
The game started fast with the Pirates crossing within the first 6 minutes, however, in similar fashion to the Two Blues the previous week, we did not panic and built pressure for long periods of time in the first half. However, despite a few unforced errors, penalties and the odd cut out pass too many - pointed out by the watchful eyes of Mark Harrison (about 20 Matt!) we went to the break up 14-7 - courtesy of tries from a maul and then a well worked backs move, with Matt Timmons being the beneficiary.
In the second half we cut loose and really expressed ourselves with some brilliant forward and back interplay with some polished ball handing and offloads from Angus Ryan, Sam Croke and Declan Leaney to name bit a few
In this period we scored 26 unanswered points, and it was pleasing to see the hard work the players have been putting into their craft come out on the field. In all honesty, we also left plenty of points out there with some wrong options in attack (cut-out passes Matt?) seeing some promising raids not rewarded, but is still got to be very happy with a 40-7 win.
The team are excited to take on a strong Eastwood side in front of the old boys this week at Coogee.
Up the Wicks!
2nd Grade Coach
Our Round 8 affair with West Harbour was both a game for running rugby enthusiasts, but also revealed some challenges we need to iron out.
The game started clunky as we grappled to find a rhythm in attack, but we managed to manipulate the defensive line enough for Tyzac Jordan to walk over untouched under the posts. This was quickly followed by a barnstorming carry by Josh Pim who put in a man-of-the-match performance.
As the game progressed, we managed to find our feet, the backs were playing some electric rugby as the forwards set the platform. A mention of note must go to Matt Dutaillis who put in a complete finishers performance scoring a hat-trick of tries.
We again stood resolute in defence keeping West Harbour scoreless and finishing the game 61-0 victors. Reflecting on the game, while we relish in our win, we must embrace the lessons learned in frustration (banning double+ cut-outs for the humble catch, draw and pass maybe Rob?) The fact that we are far from a finished product is a very exciting prospect.
Onto the next and looking forward to taking on Eastwood at Coogee Oval for Back to Randwick day.
Up the Wicks!
3rd Grade Coach
We were heading into the game coming off a bye and sitting undefeated in 3rd place on the ladder. Although Wests were sitting on the bottom of the ladder, the message to our men was that we had no easy games and with each win we notch, we become the hunted.
Wests started the game well and used their big bodies to stifle any free flowing and up tempo attack we wanted to bring to the game. We picked up some early territory on the back of a couple of Wests penalties and we managed to execute a superb lineout and maul sequence to open our account through no other than Barnaby Bickmore-Hutt. The world was normal again after Barnaby missed that feat against Manly. We lead Wests 5-0 after 13 minutes.
It then became very clear that Wests were determined to play the game as slowly as possible with the restart taking an eternity to occur. The Wests scrum was handy, and their big forwards were proving a handful and to not concede points was a credit to our strong effort and ability in defence.
In the 28th minute off a scrum on our own 5m line Conor Barry created a flashing line break off a no.8 pick to send Cillian Monahan away. Cillian had a little work to do, and after a masterful kick and chase regather scored a 95m try down the other end. A beautiful try from the Irish connection. Rique Miln hits the sideline conversion, and we head to half time 12-0.
After half time we needed to play up tempo footy and make Wests as uncomfortable as possible. In the 40th minute Conor Barry and Ellis Hawker did that with a great 8 to 9 sequences off the back of the scrum to score a 50m try. We now lead 19-0. Only 5 minutes later the backs created another long range try after David Colvine sent Ellis Hawker through a gap to then put away Scott De Z over for a bonus point try. We lead the Pirates 26-0.
We now had the wind in our sales and the Wests defence dwindled away. After a nice passage of play where we played openly and with continuity Ben Wareham scored for us to lead 33-0. We scored our last try in the 59th minute after a rather brilliant individual run from Rique Miln to slice and pin ball his way 40m to take us to a 38-0 bonus point win.
Special mentions go to Cillian Monahan and Conor Barry for their strong performances and efforts in getting us on the front foot. Although we had more points in us (you can say that again Chubbs!), it was pleasing to continue our unbeaten run and become clear leader on top of the ladder. Up the Wicks!
4th Grade Coach
West Harbour always present a very physical and high energy opposition, and we were ready for fireworks form kick-off. A torrid opening 5 minutes was expected, and Wests delivered. Our first scoring opportunity started inside our half. Some clean attack shapes moved the ball from edge to edge and into winger Jackson Cunningham’s hands. Jackson came to the final defender and chipped ahead. Ben Keogh, who has had a few legitimate ties disallowed in recent weeks and was due for some luck from the referees, was about 5 meters offside from the kick, but he soccered ahead, regathered and scored and the referee was happy to award our first try.
Our second try came shortly after. With Wests on the attack deep into our territory, Flyhalf Oli Townsend stripped their ball carrier and kicked ahead. Winger Cayden Briscoe scooped the ball up at high speed and scored a great try. Charlie Worthington converted from near the sideline and we were ahead 14-0 early. With a decent lead and playing with plenty of confidence, we put on a spectacular team try, started by Captain Hayden Maher. Maher carried strong and got an arm free to lock Sam Bertram. Berty always looks comfortable in space, and he evaded a few defenders, and then offloaded in contact to Keogh for his second try.
We then scored perhaps our best try of the season, a 100 meter gem. Zac McConnell fielded a kick on his own try line, counter attacked and set the ball through our hands. A 90m break was stopped short of the line, but from the quick recycle the ball went edge to edge and ended up in fullback Sam Gibson’s hands as he cut through the defence. A desperate tackle chopped him down short of the line, but he blindly flicked the ball to McConnell who scored the try after starting way back when.
Our 4 try bonus point was secured by halftime, and the guys were humming.
Wests scored first about 10 minutes into the second half, from a well worked scrum starter play, which stretched and disconnected our backline defence. Ben Keogh scored his third try before taking a well-earned rest on the bench.
We expected the scrum battle to be decisive, and for most of the 80 minutes we were the dominant scum, despite using four separate players at Loosehead Prop. When Wests brought on their giant Tighthead prop and we conceded a penalty or two, we pushed the diminutive Baxter Flynn from Hooker to Prop and our scrum somehow gained the upper hand again. Our own giant prop Archie Maggs then ended the day of the West Harbour behemoth with a crushing but very legal tackle. Wests scrambled to scoop the ball back, when our replacement hooker Darcy Sullivan intercepted the pass and sprinted 60 meters to the tryline in under 25 seconds for a great score (a joke James - very good!)
We had strong performers across the park, with several guys playing their best games of the season. Winger Cayden Briscoe, possibly the fastest player in the Colts competition, scored two tries and made line breaks that led to three others. Halfback Ben Keogh was in everything, and finished with a hat-trick of tries to end weeks of scoreless frustration. The tight five were challenged through the week to front up physically and then did so to great effect. We also had 100% efficiency on our attacking rucks, meaning not a single ruck was turned over in 80 minutes.
It was our best performance of the season for a 54-15 win. We will need to find further improvement this weekend to compete with a very powerful Eastwood team, but confidence is building within the group and we will consider ourselves a strong chance. Up the Wicks!
1st Colts Coach
Our Round 8 battle against West Harbour saw the first standalone colts’ day at Coogee Oval. With the boys feeling energetic (probably because of a reasonable wakeup time this week!) and a mixture of the sun and a cool beach breeze, they were keen to play some rugby.
Coming into this week, we knew West Harbour would have some damaging ball runners up the middle of the field and dominant scrum – with the latter of the two definitely shown. Due to this, our focus was physicality and defence and ensuring our boys didn’t shy away from the battle, which clearly, they didn’t, given the 24-15 scoreline to the mighty greens.
Hats off to Darcy Sullivan who played all positions in the front row in the space of 35 minutes! Perhaps a session at Recoverie down in Coogee Bay Rd could benefit him and definitely his neck. There were also some great team performances and displays of ‘Running Rugby’ which we aim to emulate so often, but on this occasion led to two tries in the first half and saw us with a 14-3 lead at the break.
In the second half, some audacious passing from members of the team led to not one, but two intercept tries, in the exact same spot on the field, which happened to be directly in front of the coaches box. This paired with the worlds shortest advantage being played, led to some interesting reactions from the said in habitants of this box.
Despite this, the boys were too strong and managed to finish the game securing a bonus point which is really crucial given how tight the competition is this year. With preparations for Eastwood already underway, the boys will be ready to match their physicality and set piece strength. Up the Wicks!
2nd Colts Coach
It was a beautiful Saturday morning at Coogee Oval and our first home run on the hallowed turf of Coogee Oval for Third Colts. Our boys appeared to be fresh and ready to dig in against the bottom of the table dwellers, West Harbour.
However, despite their position on the ladder we were in for rude shock and from the kickoff it was clear they had turned up ready to play. It wasn’t long before they were on the board, courtesy of a well worked line out try and it was game on.
West then went on the attack again and were dominant at set piece and appeared to be applying the blow torch to parts of our game, which we didn’t have an answer for. They punished us for any mistake that we made, and we did not help the cause with a massive number of unforced errors that had crept into our game.
At half time they were well on top and we needed to look at ourselves to try and find an answer to help get ourselves back in the contest.
However, we started the second half like we did the first, with more unforced errors and were our own worst enemy and the Pirates scored again to extend their lead. At that stage we didn’t appear to have the tools in the box to match them.
We finally had the rub of the green and more possession in the later parts of the game and we came back into the game 19-14 with minutes to go on the clock. We had them on the ropes with solid pick and drive close to the try line, patience was all we needed, and the forwards could see the try line looming, however a rush of blood and yet another mistake was made and West’s turned the ball over.
They then milked an injury to wind down the clock (smart play) to take the win. It was with a very bitter taste that we sat in the change room and listened to the Pirates sing their team song for in the end, was a deserved win. And it was lesson for us to respect all our opponents equally regardless of what the form guide reads.
We look forward to rectifying our issues at training this week in preparation for the trip to TG Milner against Eastwood. Up the Wicks!
The Coaching Brains Trust
3rd Colts Coaches