Peter Claver firsts draw battle lines
IT IS mid-season in most footy comps, but for St Peter Claver College's firsts, the serious business has begun.
St Peter Claver takes on St Mary's College at Toowoomba today with their hopes of a top-two finish in the Gee Shield on the line.
"St Mary's is going to be tricky," SPCC coach Todd Riggs said.
"We beat them last year, but only just.
"And we've had a couple of guys pull out."
If they beat St May's, then Nambour in July, and leaders Mountain Creek beat second-placed Alexander Hills, SPCC should advance to the Gee Shield semi-finals and a crack at qualifying for the GIO Cup (national schoolboys elite competition).
In between those two games there is the considerable challenge of the 2013 Confraternity Shield at Townsville.
SPCC would dearly love to go one better than last year and claim the title, but face the defending champions on their home turf.
Last year Ignatius Park beat SPCC 28-6 in the final.
SPCC may lack the star power of last year's team, which boasted current Queensland under-18 stars Jo Ofahengaue and Ellery Tusa.
But what they lack in individual impact Riggs hopes they make up for in teamwork and work ethic.
"Last year you couldn't have backed us to finish where we did," Riggs said.
"This side is a lot better in terms of preparation.
"In terms of superstars, last year we had four or five who are now playing NYC (National Youth Competition) or are in the Queensland under-18 side.
"I don't know we've got that individual ability this time, but we've got a better team culture. I think it is enough to beat St Mary's. But Confro is about performing right at the right time."
The school's ongoing commitment to rugby league ensures if they don't claim the title this year, they will be back giving it their best again next year and for years to come.
Redbank Plains play their penultimate Gee Shield pool match today as well - against Mountain Creek High School at Maroochydore.
Redbank Plains would need to upset the leaders, beat Harristown High (Toowoomba) in their final game and hope other results go their way to reach the semi-finals.
"It's not a good position to be in," coach Brendan Verrenkamp said.
"We've been a little bit tardy.
"We don't stick to our game plan a lot of the time and when we do it is too late."
Verrenkamp and his players have been hindered by a change in curriculum, with Year 11 and 12 students now separated in classes.
It means the coach can't get the different years to training at the same time, most of the time, so their cohesion as a unit has suffered.
Meanwhile, the Tornadoes Cup resumes today after a washout last weekend. Unbeaten teams Ipswich State High Firsts and SPCC Seconds play at Karalee's Blue Gum Reserve at 5pm.
In other matches Bundamba plays Redbank Plains and Ipswich Seconds play Rosewood, both at 4pm.
- Round 8: SPCC v St Mary's, today.
- RPSHS v Mountain Creek, today.
- Round 9: SPCC v Nambour High, July 10; RPSHS v Harristown High.