Rugby Tour 2009

The following blog of the Rugby Tour 2009 was written by Headmaster J Johnson.

Bethlehem Voortrekker High School

The Campion squad left behind the spectacular scenery and hotel at Cathedral Peak and crossed the Golden Gate National Park to enter the Free State for their matches against Voortrekker. The weather was still bright and clear, but cold, and the ground hard. We have become more familiar with the dead-looking yellow grass. South African knees and elbows must look like cheese-graters after their school careers playing rugby on this surface.

Voortgrekker is a senior mixed school (680 in number), again where parents pay part fees to top up government salary payments. The school has a very long sporting tradition, with a number of Springboks among their former pupils. We met the proud mother of two - she is a member of staff!

The chosen teams were:

1st XVHorton; Worsfold; Burrow; Wood; Cassidy Bolton; Brooker; Lynch; Auckloo; Gaze; Smith; Bonny; Lewis; Eghan; Howard. Replacements: Bolger; Tant; Chester; Stephens, Cassidy: Swallow.

2nd XV Holgate; Lucas; Fredricks; Trapp; Amato; Chisolm; Ashmore; Baker; Bogard; Ronayne; McCausland; Walshe; Way; Kennedy; Burr. Replacements: Carver; Chester T; Bennett; Overall; Barrable.

The 2nd XV suffered a defeat at the hands of a very fit and well-drilled Voortrekker side, but the margin of defeat was frustrating. Campion entered their opponents' 22 as often as Voortrekker entered the Campion 22, but Voortrekker finished their moves well, making use of their possession with accomplished handling, while Campion squandered their possession with knock-ons and handling errors.

Campion had an early chance to take the lead, but having won a kickable penalty from their kick-off could not produce their kicking-tee, a juvenile error that led to the penalty being missed. A second penalty was kicked into the Voortrekker 22, but Campion lost the line-out and a long clearance eased the pressure. Trapp was prominent trying to break through, but then Voortrekker's first attack led to a try when the Campion defence could not hold the line of attack through Voortrekker's backs.

Again Campion won a penalty from the kick-off but the penalty was missed and shortly after Voortrekker took a 1 2.0 lead through an excellent backs move. Again Campion moved into the Voortrekker 22 only to lose possession carelessly. The knock-ons appeared to come from a lack of concentration on the ball on the hard ground. By contrast Voortrekker took advantage of a scrum won against the head to pressurise the Campion line, take the ball through three phases and score an unconverted try. Near to half time a Campion forward was yellow-carded, and Voortrekker took advantage to again score a try once they had entered the Campion 22. An interval score of 24.0 showed the difference in finishing quality but the difference in territory and possession had been nothing like that.

Campion started the second half well, gaining and retaining possession much better. They got into the Voortrekker 22, and their backs were prominent, notably McCausland and Barrable. They moved the ball well across field from right to left and found Burr with enough space to get through and score an unconverted try. Further pressure in the tenth minute, aided by the fresh replacements, saw Campion reach the 5 metre line, but Voortrekker capitalised on an error and swept forward, playing a well-rehearsed move in the backs to score an unconverted try. The story of the game continued in a similar vein: Campion several times pushed forward to create the situation in which a try could be scored, only to squander possession and allow the Voortrekker backs to punish them with two more unconverted tries for a 39.5 victory. It really should have been much closer, but the fitness and support work of the Voortrekker side has shown us what we have to do to reach a higher level of play.

The 1st XV suffered a defeat at the hands of the Voortrekker first team, but it was a compliment to the strength of the Campion performance at Westville that Voortrekker put this team out, including nineteen-year-olds of whom we were unaware until after the game, their staff having liaised with the Westville coach. He warned them that the Campion boys had kept going to the end and had stood up to the physical challenge of the Westville first team. The story of the game is now a familiar one: the Campion side tried valiantly to match the superior conditioning and strength on and over the ball of the Voortrekker team, but lost possession or were isolated too often, and so failed to turn their own possession into enough points. The opening ten minutes were typical: Campion pressed forward through a well-taken penalty, and Worsfold moved the ball on further. But just as we sought to convert from this position, Voortrekker took possession, swept upfield, we missed tackles, and they scored a converted try. And two more missed tackles allowed a further converted try before ten minutes were up.

The half continued in the same vein. We managed to hold our own in the set pieces, although the Voortrekker jumper at number two was very strong. And the referee seemed reluctant to penalise clear infringements in scrummaging to which the Hornchurch front row alerted him. Campion again moved forward towards the Voortrekker half, but again carelessly lost possession and conceded a third converted try. Shortly afterwards, though, Lewis went on a long, jinking run from the Voortrekker 10 metre line to score, this time unconverted. Good work by Bolger, Eghan and Smith was evident in the next phase of the game, and then arrived the determining moment. In a grim-looking off the ball incident, two Voortrekker front row men assaulted Worsfold, who was sent to hospital to be checked over and, I am pleased to say, to be given full clearance. The referee seemed not to have seen the incident - not unsurprisingly - but nevertheless to have been informed of it. Two yellow cards seemed inadequate for the offence! From then on it was uncontested scrums. A 21.5 interval lead reflected the high quality of Voortrekker finishing. The contest had been more even than that.

The opening of the second half was typical of the frustrations in the Campion game. A good kick-off by Howard was followed up well by the pack, and we put Voortrekker under pressure in their 22.But instead of retaining the ball through several phases and building that pressure up, we dropped the ball, suffered a turnover, and they swept upfield to take a decisive 26.5 lead. And to make matters worse, we repeated the crime three minutes later. On the back foot now, the Campion side conceded further tries at regular intervals, and matters were made worse when one of the backs was yellow-carded. Stephens made a dent in the deficit when he scored in the corner after a god Campion move, the score then being 10.40. But Voortrekker continued to show a much higher finishing rate, netting twelve more points before Brooker crossed the line for a try which Howard converted. It says much for the Hornchurch team that they were still trying so hard when others might have become dispirited. The final score was 17.54.

Gaze and McCausland were voted men of the match by their peers. Voortrekker High School showed us great hospitality, especially to the staff, who enjoyed the social aspects of the visit enormously.


Helpmekaar High School

Helpmekaar is an independent boys' school on the edge of Johannesburg. The school was on a three weeks holiday break, and we are grateful to the school, its staff and parents, for welcoming and looking after our party. The pitch was a mixture of yellow and green, but the ground was again hard, and temperatures again reached 25 C on what was probably the hottest match day of the tour.

The chosen teams were:

1st XV Horton; Worsfold; Tant; Lynch; Swallow; Cassidy; Bolton; Brooker; Bolger; Gaze; Smith; Bonny; Lewis; Eghan; Howard. Replacements: Auckloo; Wood Burrrows, Ronanye.

2nd XV Holgate; Lucas; Carver; Trapp; Baker; Amato; Bennett; Chisholm; McCausland; Ronayne; Walshe;Kennedy; Way; Barrable; Burr. Replacements: Ashmore; Bogard; Chester T; Overall; Fredrick; Stephens.

The Campion squad brought their playing tour to an immensely satisfying end with two hard-won victories against Helpmekaar.

The second XV produced an excellent all-round performance against a competitive Helpmekaar side. They took an early advantage to produce pressure through a Burr penalty into the Helpmekaar 22, and although a Ronayne drop goal attempt failed, Burr converted a penalty in the 4th minute to gain a lead which the Essex team never lost. There followed a period of even play, with the lineout working well through Trapp at number 2 and the scrum holding solid. Possession was squandered at times with careless mistakes, but Campion produced two good moves on the left and looked threatening. Burr's good kicks to touch gained ground regularly, and were one of the clear differences between the sides. Bennett's tackling was prominent in defence, and he pressurised Helpmekaar possession. Too often, though, promising moves ground to a halt at the breakdown, with the man in possession not given enough support to keep the pressure on the Helpmekaar defence up. The half ended with an excellent chase by Barrable and good tackling to resist a Helpmekaar counter-thrust.

Campion again produced good pressure from the kick-off, Trapp still winning the ball in the line-out and Burr taking the Hornchurch team forward with good kicks. The back moves were a little ponderous, though, with passes moving too slowly down the line and allowing the Helpmekaar defence to close too quickly. Replacements came on to supplement the Campion team, and in the eighth minute a Helpmekaar player was yellow-carded for repeat infringements. The resulting pressure on the Helpmekaar line culminated in Carver scoring a try after good support from the other forwards. Burr converted well for a 10.0 lead. Helpmekaar pulled back the deficit a little when Campion allowed their forwards through the ruck to harass the receiver, so conceding a penalty which Helpmekaar converted for three points. The receiving Helpmekaar player at the restart almost embarrassed the Campion defence, but Burr saved their blushes with a good tackle. Ashmore tackled well to stop one move, but Helpmekaar again moved forward threateningly until Burr was again able to clear with an excellent penalty. The Campion team again dropped the ball to end a threatening move, and Baker had to tackle well to prevent a Helpmekaar break. The final whistle allowed the Campion team to celebrate the end of their South African matches with a good victory, showing how much they had learned from their previous games.

The first XV produced an outstanding performance against what was initially a Helpmekaar development team, but a team which had to be replaced by their first XV to avoid the embarrassment of a hefty defeat.

A surprising offside call from the kick-off gave Helpmekaar early pressure, but Gaze cleared with a well-taken penalty. Gradually the Campion team moved the play forward, a quick tap penalty helping to gain ground. Briefly the Essex boys lost possession, but on regaining it through another penalty Gaze and Howard created a gap for Lewis to storm through and score an unconverted try. Campion were much more solid at the restart, and a good move on the left moved the ball into the Helpmekaar 22. Lynch took the ball well in the lineout, and the ball was moved accurately to the backs. Another cross-field move created an overlap, and Lewis drew his man to create space for Eghan to drive past the closing defenders for a tenth minute try. Howard was unlucky to hit the post with the difficult conversion attempt. There followed ten minutes of more even play. The referee surprised the Campion forwards when a well-worked drive from a lineout was penalised for crossing! Gaze's kicking was helpful in this period, and Lewis' tackling pinned the Helpmekaar attack back. In the 21st minute, however, a good fast move to the left created room for Smith, running at high speed, to beat three defenders for pace and score under the posts for Howard to convert. The Helpmekaar restart went straight out and allowed Campion to build pressure again, Eghan almost scoring in the corner. Finally Campion stole a Helpmekaar ball and Lewis again sprinted through for a converted try. There was time before half-time for Helpmekaar to drop the ball when looking certain to open their account. The Campion front eight had done an excellent job in the heat, controlling the set pieces well, while the back row consistently pressurised the Helpmekaar attack.

The heat of the afternoon was unabated as the second half started, The Campion team did not wilt, however, and early pressure forced a penalty which Howard kicked successfully for three points. In the fifth minute Helpmekaartempers were fraying, and a punch or two thrown, as Brooker drove over for an unconverted try. The 32.0 scoreline forced the Helpmekaar staff into wholesale changes, and their 1st XV replaced the entire Helpmekaar side! The Campion side resisted this fresh challenge for some time, Gaze clearing well a couple of times, and the Campion wingers showing well. In the seventeenth minute however, Helpmekaar scored a converted try through an illegal flying wedge, a refereeing decision that amazed the onlooking Campion staff. Such a play has been banned for over twenty years! For a period Campion tired in the face of these fresh opponents, and two further tries were scored by Helpmekaar as they created and exploited gaps in the Campion defence. But stout defence then became the order of the day, and Campion moved into their opponents' 22 by retaining the ball well. Just as Campion seemed about to exploit a dropped ball by Helpmekaar in their 22, the referee called the teams back for a Helpmekaar advantage. Then a Helpmekaar dropped ball allowed Campion to clear their lines as the referee blew time for a convincing 32.17 victory against the Helpmekaar thirty.

The Campion players voted Alex Carver and Damian Horton man of their respective matches.

For some Campion players this was their final game in the school's colours. The Campion staff showed their appreciation of these young men and their contribution to the school after the game, in an emotional moment of transition. The playing tour came to a very successful conclusion here, and the squad moved on to well-earned Rest and Recreation at Sun City. Thanks are also expressed to the three families represented on tour, who have supported the teams throughout!

P.S. from Sun City

  • The following Tour Awards were made at the Tour Dinner:
  • Most Improved Player: Jo Barrable
  • ARGE (All-round good egg!)Damian Horton
  • Matthew Pattison Memorial Award for Best Tourer: Alex Brooker
  • Player of the Tour: Luke Cassidy


Rangers RFC Cape Town

Cape Town has been at its sunniest for the three days since our arrival. Clear blue skies and the sun shining over Table Mountain, our first port of call on Friday after the long overnight flight,and the same warm sun for Match Day and our first Tour fixtures on Saturday. The chosen teams were:

1st XV: Horton; Worsfold; Burrow; Wood; Swallow; Bolton; Brooker; Baker; Auckloo; Bolger; Smith; Gaze; Lewis; Eghan; Howard. Replacements: Cassidy; Holgate; Bonny; Stephens.

2nd XV: Tant; Lucas; Fredricks; Trapp; Amato; Bennett; Ashmore; Chisolm; Bogard; Ronayne; McCausland; Way; Kennedy; Barrable; Burr. Replacements: Carver; Overall; Chester T.

Rangers RFC were displaced from District 6 - a famous old cosmopolitan district of Cape Town - under the Apartheid regime, and moved to their present venue, a two-pitch and clubhouse ground further towards Mitchells Plain and the airport, in a district called Surrey! A huge junior programme operates out of the club, including barefoot rugby (a long ago tradition at Campion in the days of John Davies, of course) and was evident throughout the day. There was South African jazz on the loudspeakers, and later a marching band to celebrate the tourists. Rangers treated us with the warmest of hospitality and generosity, and the day felt like a festival of rugby.

Table Mountain provided the most dramatic of backgrounds as the 2nd XV kicked off in their match, up first at 9.30 a.m. The Hornchurch boys made a spirited start but conceded ground to a penalty, well nudged forward by Rangers with a strong backing wind. That concession of ground was to prove one of the frustrations of the first half, illustrated by the two penalties for Rangers which took them upfield after a great back movement by the Campion backs had almost led to a score in the left corner. From the second Rangers scored a penalty for a three point lead after ten minutes. There followed a period of scrappy play, with Tant's driving and tackling to the fore, and Trapp winning well in the lineout. Gradually Campion imposed some pattern on the play, drove through the centre, and once in their opponents' 22 Trapp drove over for a try which Burr converted. The Campion boys then took firmer control of the game, and produced more pressure, but several promising back moves broke down in the 22, and possession was too often lost before several phases could create the necessary gaps.

For some time the game see-sawed, with Campion taking the ball forward and Rangers penalties and clearances driving them back again. Eventually Campion ended a sequence of kicking for touch by taking a quick tap penalty and completing and excellent handling move with a try by Bogard. Burr again converted for a 14.3 lead. Rangers had an opportunity to reduce the margin immediately from the kickoff, but surprisingly changed their kicker, who mishit the penalty kick. There were no further scores before halftime. The Campion team had driven the ball well and had used the good ball produced by the pack to create several good moves, but they could have finished the moves better, especially in second and third phase, and their errors had let the Rangers off the hook a little.

The second half started dramatically. A good kick by Ronayne led to Tant forcefully running over for a try which Burr converted. Despite a 21.3 deficit Rangers proved determined opponents, and tackles by Barrable and Burr were needed to conserve the difference between the sides. Burr's kicking and covering were invaluable to Campion. On fifteen minutes some replacements came on as cramp and dehydration started to take effect among the Essex schoolboys, and the quality of play deteriorated a little in the heat. The Campion side continued to defend stoutly against untiring opponents, holding their own in the set pieces and tackling determinedly when necessary. The penalty count against Campion racked up, however, and will be an area for improvement as the tour continues. Ronayne almost broke through towards the end of the half, but in the end there were no more scores, and the Campion squad had won their first tour victory. A very promising start for a fifteen that has not yet gelled fully into a team but show lots of promise, can move the ball at speed, and can defend well when necessary.

The Campion 1st XV kicked off at 11.20, by which time the temperature was in the seventies and it felt more like an English Summer's day! The opening minutes saw some good Campion moves which the Rangers team defended well, and their quick covering and strong tackling were evident from then on. Auckloo settled the nerves, however, dummying inside and then running on the blind side to score a try in the left corner in the sixth minute. The game was well contested for the next period, with Smith and Bolton evident in possession, and the Campion pack more than holding its own in set pieces. Brooker was to the fore in all aspects of his game. As with the second XV, the penalty count started to work against the lads in white, and it was not until the fifteenth minute that Campion were composed enough to set Eghan up with a sweeping move from left to right, following good lineout work. Earlier he had been brought down in a one-to-one, but this time he evaded his tackler to score in a good position, from which Howard converted. Another period of contested play followed, and Rangers often made advances through penalties or through the speed of their back line, the most evidently good feature of their play in both attack and defence. On the thirtieth minute they broke through and crossed the line but were brought back for offside. The Campion team took the warning though, and sharpened up their workrate. The scrum proved solid for the remainder of the half, but retaining possession remained a problem.

A marching brass and drums band greeted the start of the second half, and Campion got quickly to work to build on their 12.0 interval lead. A great move and run by Lewis led to him scoring, and Rangers stamping him in the act of scoring, so conceding an immediate penalty (well spotted by the touch judge!). Campion made some replacements at this point to spread the workload in the heat. There was no conversion, and Rangers No. 8 made a good run to force a 5 metre scrum. Campion stole the ball though, and came away from their line. The scrum and lineout remained pretty firm, and before fifteen minutes of the half had passed, Campion scored again, Stephens making an excellent run to score the try, and Howard converting for a 24.0 lead. At this point the heat and a more lethargic approach took over a little, and there was a period of contested play before Howard took the chance offered by a 40 metre penalty to add three more points. Again though the penalty count started to rise against us, and far too many were conceded. Rangers remained spirited opponents to the end, and they scored a good try in the dying minutes to leave the final score 27.5 to Campion.

Burr and Brooker were subsequently voted men of their respective matches by their peers.

Rangers RFC provided tremendous post-match hospitality, and the ceremonies and exchange of gifts were conducted according to Campion's touring traditions. The Band played us on to the coaches as we departed for our township visit.


Waterkloof High School

Waterkloof is a large independent school on the edge of Pretoria. It enjoys massive commitment from staff, students and parents, and has excellent facilities. The P.E. Department looked in envy at the P.E. office block, almost as large as our entire Sixth Form Block! The school welcomed us very warmly, and we established some of the best friendships of our entire visit. The pitch was green, a welcome change from the dead yellow grass of previous venues, but the ground was just as hard as others had been, and cricket practices were in full swing in the 25-plus degrees Celsius temperature! The sun was at times blinding for the players on a high ball.

The chosen teams were:

1st XV Horton; Worsfold; Burrow; Lynch; Wood; Cassidy; Bolton; Brooker; Bolger; Gaze; Smith; Bonny; Lewis; Eghan; Howard. Replacements: Tant; Auckloo; Swallow.

2nd XV Holgate; Lucas; Carver; Trapp; Baker; Chisolm; Ashmore; Bennett; McCausland; Ronayne; Walshe; Kennedy; Stephens; Barrable; Burr. Replacements: Way; Chester T; Bogard; Amato; Overall; Fredrick.

The second team suffered a quite heavy defeat at the hands of an excellent Waterkloof Under 16 team, the school once again showing the Essex squad the greatest respect by fielding strong teams. The defeat need not have been so heavy - the Campion team contributing to the deficit with some thoughtless errors that should be eliminated. Missed tackles is the most obvious cause of some of the points conceded unnecessarily, and after the opening exchanges were clearly equal it was two misses that allowed Waterkloof to score under the posts after five minutes, to take a lead which they never lost. After nine minutes some good Campion ball retention allowed Burr a chance with a penalty, but his kick just missed. In the fourteenth minute, however, Campion produced an excellent backs move for Barrable to score an unconverted try in the corner. Back in the game the Essex lads immediately lost concentration, failed to secure a bouncing ball from the kick-off, and conceded a converted try to increase the deficit. Frustration all around! Concentrating better at the restart, Campion won a penalty, but Burr was again unlucky not to convert it into points. There followed a period of equal exchanges, but the better finishing of our opponents was again evident when they entered the Campion 22 and scored another converted try in the twenty-third minute. A Campion forward blundered into the catcher at the restart, earning a yellow card for recklessness, but without any malice. Under pressure the Campion team conceded a penalty for offside, unusually from a 22 drop-out, and Waterkloof again took advantage of possession in the 22 to score. The 28.5 deficit at the interval once again did not reflect the balance of play, but rather the higher finishing rate of the South African team.

The second half opened with a period of even contest and no scores. The Campion forwards played well, noticeably Bennett, and a great Burr penalty briefly gave Campion a chance to open the second half scoring, but Campion lost the ball at a lineout and Waterkloof relieved the pressure. Campion again came forward, right to the Waterkloof 5 metre line, only for Waterkloof to move the ball out, get it to their speedy right wing and he outpaced the Campion defenders to score an unconverted try. Campion again produced good work from the kick-off, moved the ball forward and won a penalty, but lost the quickly-taken kick to a turnover - again typifying the curate's egg approach to their rugby - good in parts! In the fifteenth minute of the half some weak tackling allowed the Waterkloof side through for another try, this time converted, and a 40.5 lead. Campion were not lying down though, and a Waterkloof yellow card allowed the Hornchurch team to put pressure on the Waterkloof line. Eventually Kennedy forced his way over for a try which Burr converted. The last word went to Waterkloof, however, as a spectacular dropped goal from 30 metres by the fly-half, when under pressure and behind his line, completed the scoring at 43.12. Campion have much to do to match the efficacy of their opponents, but no-one can doubt their willingness to face up to the challenge.

When Campion toured Canada in 2007, the word "awesome" was a clichZ?, meaning only something good or nice, or even just normal. But there was nothing normal, in our individual and collective experience of schoolboy rugby, about the performance of the Waterkloof first team, preparing as they are for prestigious national play offs. Their performance was truly awesome: they defeated the Campion first team heavily, but our players came off the field saying that it had been a pleasure to play in the game, and none of us at the game will ever forget it. The first twelve minutes said it all. Waterkloof scored three unconverted tries as their forwards swarmed on our lads, gained the ball at almost every opportunity, and provided the fastest back line we may ever have encountered on tour with opportunities. Their speed of movement and their passing created gaps or overlaps which they exploited so well, forcing us to turn and tackle back, but placing us under constant pressure. There were small moments of good play by the Campion team: Worsfold almost bursting through on a short throw-in, and Howard clearing his lines with an excellent penalty, but the class and quality of our opponents outshone these moments. Sometimes our mistakes did not help us, and missed clearances, for example, gave rise to four Waterkloof tries during the game, of which the seventeenth minute one was the first. We were unfortunate to miss a kickable penalty in the twenty-first minute, but a horrible line out and missed tackle awarded Waterkloof a further try for a 27.0 lead. Smith, Eghan, and the back row trio were evident in our defence during the half, but too often they were isolated, while Waterkloof always had men over the tackled player and several options for a pass moving forwards. In the thirty-first minute Waterkloof scored another try after a failed clearance. The space for their backs to move at pace and switch the ball seemed to be particularly to their liking at such a moment. A 32.0 lead at half-time was well-deserved, although it would have been smaller if we had eliminated the more obvious errors.

As the sun disappeared behind the Stand (yes, the Stand), the floodlights (yes, the floodlights!) came on for the second half. We started the half well, with Smith first clearing well and then following up to gain a penalty which we kicked to the five metre line. But once again we were unable to convert the situation into points, and lost the ball in a tackle to a turnover in the ruck. In the sixth minute Waterkloof completed a spectacular backs movement, first right and then back into the midfield to score a converted try and take a 39.0 lead. Finally in the ninth minute of the half Campion had some luck, and a loose ball from a line-out in the Waterkloof 22 allowed Swallow to touch down for an unconverted try. But Waterkloof immediately countered with a swift upfield movement to score an unconverted try, and the remainder of the half saw them score four more excellent tries as the Campion boys tired in their second challenging game in three days. The final score of 61.5 showed just how good the Waterkloof team is - one of the best three in the whole of South Africa, and the best schoolboy team representing a school I have seen in the past sixteen years.

The after-match event was a great social occasion, the two squads singing with each other outside the clubhouse. The Waterkloof coaches judged Burr and Smith to be our best players in the two games, a local tradition that rewarded our players for their good efforts. Mr Jones was hard-pressed to choose among their teams, so much excellence was on display! We have learned the challenges and the rewards of playing against the very best that South Africa has to offer!


Westville Boys High School

The clear blue skies of South Africa had continued to greet us in Natal, but on match day at Westville they gave way to grey cloud and a cold cross-field wind.

Westville is a large senior boys’ school, 1160 in number (250 in each year group), where parents pay part fees to top up government grants. It clearly has a very strong and proud sporting tradition, fielding multiple teams in four sports. The pitch was dry and fast, and the ground itself is landscaped into the hill on which the school sits.

The chosen teams were:

1 st XV Horton; Worsfold; Tant; Wood; Swallow; Bolton; Brooker; Baker; Auckloo; Bolger; Smith; Bonny; Lewis; Eghan; Howard. Replacements: Burrow; Gaze; Stephens,Cassidy.

2 nd XV Holgate; Lucas; Carver; Overall; Chester T; Bennett; Lynch; Cassidy; Bogard; Ronayne; McCausland; Way; Kennedy; Barrable; Burr. Replacements: Carver; Fredricks; Trapp; Amato; Chisolm; Ashmore

The second XV were very unfortunate that the opening minute saw a controversial decision as they followed up their kick-off, charged down the defensive kick, and touched down - only for a decision of offside to deny them the points. The decision looked even more costly when in the fifth minute Westville drove over for a try after Campion had conceded ground to a penalty, a familiar and often repeated mistake in both the games. Campion then settled down to the task of recovery. Lynch was prominent in the line-out, although the throw to him became too predictable eventually. McAusland showed some good footwork on the wing. A good move through the backs forced Westville to concede a penalty, which Burr could not convert, but he made amends in the eleventh minute when he scored from the 22 metres line after the Essex boys had retained the pressure on their opponents. Westville drove the ball downfield, but Burr cleared well and the Campion wing-forward Bennett and Kennedy were quickly to their man. Unfortunately ground was again lost to an untimely penalty, and twice the Campion defenders were deceived by the Westville backs’ clever dummies, the second of which led to their second try and an interval lead of 12-3 following the conversion. The half ended with another controversial decision, a Westville mark being given when the full-back looked outside the 22. Campion errors, in particular letting the ball go in turnovers, and the concession of too many penalties, led to the half-time deficit. Cassidy had a good half, and there were moments when Barrable and Way threatened.

Frustratingly, for this reporter at least, there were no scores in the second half. Campion applied lots of pressure, and twice Westville had to touch down under pressure after clever kicks had bounced just a metre or two further than we might have wanted. But a Westville interception could also have led to a try, but for good covering back. We held firm in the set pieces, if we were rather predictable in our plays. The backs worked hard, but could not quite find the necessary space down the wings to convert pressure into points. Even when one of the Westville players was yellow carded for stamping, we failed to apply pressure consistently, and could not take advantage. The half ended after twenty-five minutes, to allow the 1 st team game enough light, but that just added to the frustration. The 2 nd team could, and perhaps should, have won this game, and certainly should be annoyed with themselves for losing it.

The 1 st team game followed quickly afterwards. Westville had clearly selected a strong team and the early exchanges were physical and challenging. The Westville backs were fast and direct, but the Hornchurch team took the ball forward, won a short throw and gained a penalty which Howard converted for a 3.0 score. By the fifth minute, however, Westville took the lead by gaining possession from the kick-off, a point which Campion should note because it happened more than once. Howard was injured and spent some time off the field, and Westville took further advantage of possession close to the Campion line to drive over and take a 14.3 lead. Worse was to follow as Swallow was yellow carded for delaying release, and in the closing minutes Westville took advantage of poor tackling to score a further try for a 19.3 interval lead. While the lead was undoubtedly deserved, it arose more from good finishing and thorough work rather than a significant difference in physical commitment or ability. The second half proved rather different, however.

Four minutes into the half the Westville centre scored an excellent try, demonstrating his high class. Campion quickly replied, Eghan converting well after the ball was moved right quickly. But their concentration lapsed when a ball-boy quickly placed a ball on the centre spot and Westville attacked unexpectedly down their right to score a try. Campion appeared to lose some heart and concentration for a period, conceding two further tries to give Westville a 48.8 lead, which Tant reduced with a late try as Campion rallied towards the end. A poor defensive display has shown that the team needs further work to tighten things, and to maintain concentration and reduce errors under pressure. But the Campion team did show great physical commitment, and now need to put this to better effect in rucks and mauls, gaining more turnovers and looking after the ball better to build up pressure on their opponents.

Cassidy and Eghan were voted man of the match in their respective games by their peers. The Campion squad moved north after the Westville visit, entering the Drakensberg mountains and reaching the lofty resort at Cathedral Peak in the World Heritage site. From there they move on to Bethlehem and a game on Tuesday against Voortrekker High School.