Due to both Premier 4 and 1st division having byes, it has been arranged that the two teams who aren’t playing in their division on the bye round shall meet each other for a friendly match. The Griffins arrived at Quins home ground to find a beautifully groomed pitch and weather designed for good rugby.
Maroondah took the opportunity to rest some of the more experienced players and give some younger faces a run. Alex Di Pietrantonio took on the captaincy for the first time and did a fantastic job in the absence of Shane.
The game opened and both Maroondah and Harlequins looked threatening. The game soon settled and it quickly became apparent that neither team could gain the upper hand in terms of possession or the run of play. Harlequins gained the upper hand initially by controlling the territory. They managed to keep the ball down the Griffins end of the pitch for long periods of time. Anytime Maroondah coughed it up within thirty metres of the Harlequins try line, Quins were kick to pump the ball back down field. Maroondah on the other hand seemed reluctant to clear the ball in defence and insisted on attempting to run it out. Maroondah struggled with ball retention for the majority of the first half, throwing silly offloads and failing to support the ball carrier properly on several occasions. The game was played with uncontested scrums, as Harlequins were unable to provide a satisfactory number of trained front rowers, which ensured that every turnover was a straight change in possession. These factors combined with defensive lapses and an inability for the back line to get on the front foot saw Harlequins take a small but significant lead into the second half.
The Griffins emerged in the second half a different team. The silly offloads were gone, the forwards began to dominate the break down and the backs were more effective in both attack and offence. Maroondah took the opportunity to clear the ball from their defensive end more often and began to apply the same pressure of territory that Harlequins had in the first half. The game was far more vocal in the second half and the greater level of communication paid off. It wasn’t all one way traffic but soon Maroondah’s higher level of intensity, belief and structure began to shine through and turn into score board pressure. Spirited try line defence saw Maroondah maintain their newly found score board advantage and they carried a slender victory through to the whistle.
The boys were ebullient in their celebrations and the team song echoed around the Harlequins ground triumphantly. It was good to see them force a win from a scrappy and closely contested game.