Wombats Power Into Grand Final

MatchReportUnbeaten IDRU Minor Premiers Avondale have advanced to the Grand Final in two weeks with a powerful 36 – 20 Major Semi-Final win over a gallant Vikings side at Ocean Park. Scoring five tries to three the Wombats put on a relentless display of power rugby to outplay the Blueys who showed plenty of spirit to go the distance with the Premiership favourites.

The match was marred by several nasty injuries, the worst causing a thirty eight minute delay in the second half when young Wombat winger Mani Tuigamala was knocked unconscious and heavily concussed. Players left the field as Tuigamala was attended to on the ground until he was removed in an ambulance and taken to Wollongong Hospital for evaluation. Vikings are destined to be without their outstanding centre Michael Ashby for the remainder of their finals campaign after he suffered a broken Cheekbone midway through the second half as well.

The match was less than a minute old when Avondale’s Mani Tuigamala opened the scoring. Fielding a misdirected clearing kick from Vikings, Tuigamala raced down the eastern touchline to score his side’s first try. With the try converted by his Fly-Half brother Silipa Tuigamala from wide out Avondale were out 7 – 0.

With the Wombats clicking straight into their best attacking form Vikings managed to restrain them for a period before Skipper Andre Itula made things look too easy bumping off several defenders in a short run to the line to stretch the lead to a point a minute. With Tuigamala converting again the Wombats were at 14 – 0 with thirteen minutes gone.

Vikings managed to regain some composure after the early Wombat onslaught to apply considerable pressure to the Wombat defence. After a long period in the Avondale half of the field, the opening Vikings try came when centre Ashby produced a pin point cut out pass for winger Cheyne Pike to cross in the beachside corner.

The Wombats quickly took back the initiative taking play deep back into Vikings territory on the back of some powerful play from their forwards led by lock Gus Faleauto and workaholic flankers Kyle Moody and Kieran Jack. Jack pounced on a loose Vikings pass, toeing the ball through and after kicking a second time retrieved the ball to score in the clubhouse corner, extending the lead to 19 – 5 after twenty five minutes.

A succession of penalties took Vikings deep into the Avondale quarter and from one such penalty Vikings found touch. From the resulting lineout the Blueys created a well-constructed rolling maul. When it was brought to a standstill by the Wombats, the ever busy Viking Prop Joel Diggins peeled off the maul and found halfback Tommy Sawden in support and the little no. 9 scooted away to score in the corner. With Sawden unable to convert either of the Vikings tries the sides went to the break with Avondale holding a 19 – 10.

The first half belonged to Avondale with strong play from their pack and a sound kicking game from Jacob Kara at the back and Tuigamala at No.10. Vikings however showed plenty of commitment throughout the half to stay in the match with Michael Ashby absolutely outstanding. Vikings Halfback Sawden opened the scoring in the second term with a penalty goal to narrow the margin to six.

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The Rogues Rant

RoguesRantWallaby Coach Michael Cheika has chosen a very interesting side for the opening Bledisloe Cup match on Saturday night. Cheika has put a lot of faith in the young back row of new skipper Michael Hooper, Ned Hanigan and Japan bound Sean McMahon to really get amongst the All Blacks and upset the rhythm of the World Champs. Kurtley Beale is back in the centers with Samu Kerevi, but Beale has not played a lot of football of late after returning from a long stint on the sidelines through injury. Curtis Rona gets a start and should provide plenty of coverage at the back with Israel Folau and Henry Speight. There is plenty of experience on the bench to call on late in the game but if the starting pack don’t make an early impact and get the Kiwis off their game it could be a long night for all. Given the record of the Kiwis over the Aussie sides in Super Rugby this year and last year’s shut out how could anyone confidently predict a Wallaby win? All Blacks to win.

The junior matches between Sydney and Country out at Bathurst a couple of weeks ago went pretty well for the boys from the bush. The younger age groups saw big wins for Sydney in the Under 14’s and 15’s with Sydney winning big 36 – 10 in the 14’s and 40 – 7 in the 15’s. Things went a bit better in the older age groups. The 16’s was a narrow win to the city boys with a one point margin at 13 – 12. The Under 17’s was all country with the girls winning the first contest between the two with a strong 27 – 15 performance and then the boys upset their more fancied rivals in a cliff hanger 36 – 31. It was a good shot in the arm for Country Junior Rugby and from all reports the whole day was superbly presented by the Bathurst Bulldogs Club. Well done to all concerned.

Well done to the new boys on the block this year in Illawarra Rugby. Wollondilly in their return to the comp finished sixth on the ladder with six wins and two draws in third grade. The Southern Crushers from Albion Park have shown plenty of promise racking up three wins and two draws but finished with the wooden spoon in their first season of third grade. After showing that they can be competitive with the bigger clubs I reckon things will only get bigger and better down south in the years to come.

Congratulations to Avondale on completing an almost perfect score on the points table with eighteen straight wins for the year to finish on 88 points. Only Vikings spoiled the party by holding the Wombats to narrow margins in their two encounters depriving them of the perfect score of 90 competition points. This Saturday’s Major Semi-Final at Ocean Park will be a very interesting match. The two matches between the sides during the year went down to the wire with Avondale getting home by five points on both occasions. There really is not a lot between the two sides and I am expecting another close match this week which could go either way. Avondale had bonus point wins in every match except their two matches against Vikings. Vikings season stats are not that far behind Avondale as far as wins and bonus points are concerned. The Blueys had 15 wins, fourteen with bonus points, and a draw from which they also earned a bonus point, losing only the two games to Avondale. Avondale got out of gaol with a last minute try in their Round 11 match at Gerry Cappetta Oval after Vikings appeared to have done enough to win the match. So I reckon there will only be a matter of points in it again this week with the winner getting the march straight through to the decider at WIN Stadium on September 2nd. I’ll go for an Avondale win but as I said the match could go either way. Avondale to win.

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Wombats Complete Almost Perfect Season

MatchReportWith eighteen rounds of the IDRU Builders Club Premiership completed all attention now moves to next week’s Semi-Finals at Ocean Park and Camden. Avondale who finished the rounds with a 45 -12 win over Tech Waratahs, have completed an amazing season on top of the table with 88 out of a possible 90 points. With eighteen straight wins the Wombats sit nine clear of second placed Vikings, the only side to deny them bonus points in their two encounters this year. Vikings only two losses for the year came at the hands of the Minor Premiers. Vikings had to work hard to overcome Shoalhaven 27 – 12 and will now meet the Wombats in the Major Semi-Final on Saturday at Ocean Park Woonona.

Fourteen points behind Vikings in third spot on 65 points, Bowral finished with a big 43 – 0 win over Campbelltown having already secured third spot, carrying on from last year’s breakout season to qualify for their second successive final series. They will play reigning Premiers University in Sunday’s sudden death Minor Semi-Final at Camden Rugby Park. The Bulls had to fight back from a half-time deficit against Kiama before winning 45 – 25 at Kiama Showground to take winning form into the elimination Semi.

The final points table for 2017 has strong similarity to last season with the same clubs finishing in the top five. Last year’s Minor Premiers Shamrocks finished fifth with a 36 – 29 victory over Camden after a season dominated by injury which prevented the club from building any consistency in their 2017 campaign. Shoalhaven showed improvement to finish sixth in 2017 after finishing second last in 2016. Tech Waratahs have enjoyed a much more fruitful season this year registering three wins but still have to accept the wooden spoon after finishing on equal points in last place with Camden. The Rams secured 2 bonus points in their match with the Rocks to move to twenty points and with a better for and against than Tech managed to avoid the dreaded wooden spoon.

So now it’s down to the final four with Avondale starting as deserved favourites in what will be an interesting three weeks to come. There was nothing between Avondale and Vikings in their two previous encounters this year with the Blueys very unlucky not to get the points only going down by five points on both occasions. Avondale and Vikings have qualified in all three grades for the finals.

This Weeks Results

Avondale 45 Def Tech Waratahs 12

Bowral 43 Def Campbelltown 0

University 45 Def Kiama 25

Vikings 27 Def Shoalhaven 12

Shamrocks 36 Def Camden 29

Final Points Table: Avondale 88, Vikings 79, Bowral 65, University 58, Shamrocks 50, Shoalhaven 40, Kiama 27, Campbelltown 26, Camden 20, Tech Waratahs 20.

The Rogues Rant

RoguesRantWelcome to The Rogues Rant, an occasional look at all things Rugby.

An abridged version of the Rant this week. The Rogue is on holiday resting up for the upcoming Final Series.

Congratulations to the Crusaders, winning their eighth Super Rugby title with a commanding 25 – 17 win at Ellis Park. The Lions did it hard losing flanker Kwagga Smith one minute out from half-time, sent off for a dangerous tackle. Leading 15 – 3 at the break, the New Zealanders took a grip on the match scoring early after the break to be out by 25 – 3. To the Lions credit they fought back well but could only manage two tries against stout Kiwi defense. The Crusaders are the only side to have won the title outside their own country which they have now done twice after winning in Canberra in 2000. They are the first team also to have traveled to South Africa for a final and come home with the Trophy.

The Dexter Porter Cup Blood drive continues with Shamrocks still out in front with three weeks remaining. Shamrocks are 72 with Vikings hanging in with 59 still thirteen behind. Kiama sit on 6, Tech Waratahs have made 5, University 4, Bowral 2, and Camden 1. Time is running out so get busy.

Last Round in the IDRU Builders Club Premiership this week with the Final Four decided for this year. The University win over Shoalhaven last week means that fourth spot is cut and dried with the Bulls now eight points clear of fifth placed Shamrocks. This week sees the top five sides playing the bottom five and the results should be pretty straight forward but there is still plenty of pride to play for. Avondale showed last week against Camden that they are prepared to show no mercy and should be too good again this week against the season’s big improvers Tech Tahs. At home at Gerry Cappetta Oval, the Wombats should win well. Avondale to win. Campbelltown conclude a very disappointing season at home to Bowral. With Bowral building toward a big semi -final showdown with Uni it’s hard to see a win here for Campbelltown. Bowral to win. Kiama are at home to University and could cause an upset here if they are at full strength. Unfortunately though the Cows have had an unhappy year and I think that will continue here. University to win. Shamrocks host Camden at Ocean Park and after showing some signs of last year’s form of late will have no trouble getting the points here from the out of touch Rams. Shamrocks to win. Match of the Round is at Shoalhaven Rugby Park with Vikings visiting the Shoalies. Shoalhaven upset Vikings in this match last year which cost Vikings a place in the finals. The Blueys will want to take winning form into the Major Semi-Final against Avondale and will win here but will have to work hard to get over an up and coming Shoalhaven side. Vikings to win.

All opinions offered in this column are the opinion of the author. They should not be considered to represent the views of the IDRU.

Sydney Vs Country Juniors

NSW Country LogoThe Annual  Junior City Vs Country age Fixture, was held on Sunday the 6th  of August at   Bathurst, hosted by the Bathurst Bulldogs rugby Club,  with  a number of  illawarriors   young players, supporters and their families from the Illawarra region making the trip to Bathurst for the weekend . The annual clash is for Age groups U14s through to U17s as the U18s played a couple of weeks prior. For the First time Under 17s Female teams. With all sides having to content with a strong ( Cold) wind from the west straight down the field.

Tim Gavin Shield (Under 14)

Junior Illawarriors participating: Jack Neich and Toutai Lolhea

Country started out fast, strongly attacking the Sydney half but were unable to score any points with the territory advantage in the first 10 minutes of the game and with a couple penalties to City, the play moved into Countries half. City moved the ball wide and  the centre cut  back  and scored close to the post. The try was converted giving City a lead of 7-0.  Just on half time country made a sweeping move down the grandstand side of the ground with good backing up of the no 7 to score next to the post and at oranges the score is 7 all . Most of the play for the game was spent between  the 25s. in the second half  with the Sydney side making a number of breaks leading to  tries in the second half with a final score of 36-10 to Sydney .

Steve Tuynman Cup (Under 15)

Junior Illawarriors participating: Tumoana Poata, Calvin Watts, Angus Blackmore And Zeb Maddison

The Sydney side started strongly in the opening stanza attacking the country line with country holding the Sydney side at bay into the wind. Just before half time country scored ( Blackmore) 7-5 at oranges. The Second half country played into the wind and Sydney side made full advantage of running with the wind to take the match out to 40 to 7.

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University Secures Fourth Spot

MatchReportUniversity have completed the picture for the upcoming Semi-Finals with a 36 – 24 win over Shoalhaven to cement fourth spot on the IDRU Builders Club Premiership table. Shamrocks registered a 38 – 27 victory over Campbelltown but with one round remaining next week are now out of reach of this year’s final series.

In a match in which both sides fed off the errors of each other the Bulls ran in six tries to Shoalhaven’s four in an unconvincing performance to open up an eight point margin back to Shamrocks in fifth position, with Shoalies five points further back in sixth. Despite Shamrocks registering a 38 – 27 victory over Campbelltown, with one round remaining next week the Rocks and Shoalhaven are now out of reach of this year’s final series.

A second half sin binning cost the Shoalies dearly as the Bulls ran in two decisive tries in the ten minute period to end Shoalhavens finals hopes. The Bulls went into the match without key forwards Paul Tuala and Damien Mei but welcomed back Lock Andrew Rae from injury and produced another very sound defensive effort to repel Shoalies for lengthy periods throughout the match.

Avondale responded to some strong mid-week encouragement from Coach Murray McDonald by trouncing last placed Camden 81 – 3 at Camden Rugby Park. Wombats Major Semi-Final opponents Vikings completed a Black and Blue Cup double with a convincing 40 – 29 win over Kiama at home as they move towards their first finals campaign in three years. Bowral held a narrow 12 – 7 half-time lead over Tech Waratahs at Eridge Park before going right on with the job in the second half to register a 31 – 7 victory.

Read more: University Secures Fourth Spot

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