Powerhouse St Brendan’s College, Yeppoon stormed through the first day of the Confraternity Carnival with a win over defending champions St Mary’s College, Toowoomba in a stirring firstday of schoolboy rugby league in Bundaberg.
On the same day that old boys Cameron Munster, Corey Oates and Ben Hunt were named in Queensland’s State of Origin squad, St Brendan’s held out St Mary’s 6-4 in a cracking game of football that had a bit of everything.
There was a try disallowed for a double movement, a ball was dropped with the tryline wide open and the lights blew to leave the final minutes played in semi-darkness.
And then a passing train, tooting its whistle, was mistaken for the fulltime siren with three minutes remaining before play resumed.
St Brendan’s won both of their pool matches – they also defeated St Augustine’s College, Cairns 28-18 – to finish the first day in much better shape than last season when the 2017 champions Rockhampton Grammar stunned them 28-0 before missing the quarter-finals.
St Brendan’s have won 13 Confraternity Shields – the most of any school in the stellar 40-year history of the Confraternity Carnival which has thrown up a host of league greats including St Mary’s own Johnathan Thurston.
St Mary’s remain in the thick of the race this year – a win in the final pool match tomorrow morning will likely push them into tomorrow afternoon’s quarter-finals.
But challengers loom across Division 1 with Ignatius Park College, Townsville – the alma mater of Michael Morgan, Kalyn Ponga and Coen Hess – winning both its matches while Gold Coast’s Marymount College, with former NRL star Matt Geyer on its coaching staff, were also undefeated.
Rugby union heavyweights Marist College, Ashgrove, sent a tremor through the traditional league schools when they won both matches including a 16-10 win over St Peter Claver College, Riverview – last year’s grand finalists and the former school of Anthony Milford and Joe Ofahengaue.
The Catholic schools competition, which was set up in 1980, again attracted its share of NRL scouts today looking for the next players to join more than 30 carnival graduates who have reached State of Origin level for Queensland.
The Confraternity Carnival is contested in three divisions of 16 teams and continues to grow in popularity, producing a stellar list of graduates including seven players today named in the Maroons’ team for the final Origin match – Daly Cherry-Evans, Oates, Hunt, Ofahengaue, Morgan, Munster and Felise Kaufusi.
The third round of pool matches will be played tomorrow morning before the finals section of the competition begins tomorrow afternoon. Wednesday will be a rest day followed by the completion of the finals matches across Thursday and Friday.
Schools from southeast Queensland, which play rugby union during their inter-school competitions, continue to embrace the annual Carnival.
St Patrick’s College, Shorncliffe, Iona College, Wynnum and Marist College, Ashgrove shared the AIC First XV rugby union premiership this year and all contested matches today in Division 1.
Padua College, which featured in the inaugural Confraternity Carnival in 1980, continues to be a competition mainstay and won its second match today.
In the second division, St Laurence’s College, including a host of players fresh from the AIC rugby runion competition, won an entertaining clash with Ryan Catholic College, Townsville, on Field 1.
The Confraternity Carnival is staged by the Queensland Independent Secondary Schools’ Rugby League with this year’s matches hosted by Shalom College, Bundaberg.
QISSRL president Peter Elmore said the opening day showcased the most important elements of the Confraternity Carnival.
“It keeps getting larger and we’re now into our 40th carnival and we’re back where we began in Bundaberg but one thing hasn’t changed – this Carnival is still about sportsmanship, respect and fellowship,” Mr Elmore said.
“There is a great tradition and we saw the beginnings of another memorable Carnival in today’s matches.”