Stannard passes Super test
WHILE one former Ipswich schoolboy left Suncorp Stadium happy on Sunday, another was facing up to the disappointment of defeat.
Former St Edmund's College student James Stannard was on the losing team as the Western Force lost their Super 15 opener to the Queensland Reds 21-20.
On the other team, grinning despite a 10-minute stint in the sin-bin was former Ipswich Grammar student Rod Davies.
“The body's good but I'm not feeling good about losing,” Stannard said after he had returned home to Perth.
On Sunday Stannard was cheered on by his parents Mark and Sharon who are living in a friend's granny flat after their Karalee home was flooded last month.
So Stannard was pleased to be playing in a dedicated flood relief fundraising match, though it didn't compensate for the pain of defeat.
He refused to use the 35 degree heat and high humidity as an excuse for letting the Reds back into a game the Force had dominated to lead 15-9 with 20 minutes remaining and 20-14 with five to go.
“Both teams had to play in the heat and we've had to train in pretty horrendous heat,” Stannard said.
“It was not taking our opportunities when we had them (that cost us).
“We had a couple of opportunities in their half and we turned it over.”
The Force led 15-9 when Stannard came on for starting half Brett Sheehan.
It was Sheehan who Davies had punched in the face late in the first half, earning himself an extra 10 minutes rest.
The Reds came back into the game through a try the Force would rather never see again.
From a lineout 20m from the Force tryline, the Reds set for a regulation line-out, only for the throw to go short to the front of the line-out to Scott Higginbotham who passed back to hooker Saia Faingaa.
With the Force's blindside winger defending on the open side and Stannard defending at the back of the line-out, it was up to the Force hooker to mark the 5m blindside.
But he got sucked in by the dummy jump and Faingaa raced 20m to score.
“Considering they did that all last year, it is something our guys have to look at,” Stannard said.
“Take that out and we win the game.”
The Force extended their lead again with a runaway try to James O'Conner but couldn't hold off the determined home team.
His opportunities were limited but Stannard was happy with what he was able to contribute in his 20-minute cameo.
“I was happy with my passing,” he said.
“That was something that in the trials, as I got tired, went a bit wayward.
“I think I asked some questions of their defence but we were in defence mode most of the time.”
Despite the loss, the Force have proved they can play tough, physical, grinding football, something with which they have not been synonymous in their brief history.
“The attitude was always there,” Stannard said.
“We defended really well I thought.
“We've just got to capitalise when we build pressure in their half.
“It could be just a first game of the season-type thing.
“I think we'll be better for it.”
The Force won't get to put Stannards's theory to the test this weekend, however, as they have an early bye before facing South Africa's Sharks in Perth the following weekend.