Avondale Hold Out Tenacious University

MatchReportIn a remarkable eighty minutes of Rugby at Gerry Capetta Oval, Avondale have maintained their IDRU Builders Club Premiership lead but not without a scare from a tenacious University side. The Wombats put on what must have been close to their best forty minutes of attacking Rugby so far this year to take a bonus point 24 – 0 lead into the break. Showing all the attacking potency that they possess the reigning Premiers ran in four tries in what at times was a powder keg of a first half which threatened to explode on a couple of occasions.

With both sides willing to get involved in the heavy work the match pulsated from one end of the field to the other. Unfortunately both sides lost a player to head knocks in the first half one of which caused a twenty two minute delay to play. Avondale lost No.8 Gus Faleauto in the tenth minute after he collided heavily with Uni center Jade Gardiner and was knocked unconscious. As a precaution after Faleauto lay motionless for several minutes an Ambulance was called, but thankfully by the time it arrived he had recovered enough for the Paramedics to walk him off the field.

Uni Lock Carl Lanigan was Blue Carded by Referee John Maughan after an accidental head clash left him dazed on the ground. The incident which also sparked a nasty exchange between several players caused another delay to the match as the match officials took several minutes to calm the situation as half time approached.

Maximum points in the IDRU Player of the Year award went to Wombat Fly-Half Silipa Tuagamala whose impact on the match was almost immediate. Tuagamala scored in the first minute of the match with a jinking run from twenty out leaving three defenders in his wake. He converted his try from in front for a 7 – 0 lead to the hosts.

With veteran Donovan Nepia showing the Students hand early with his prodigious kicking game giving Uni field position, the visitors were able to put the Wombat defense to the test for an extended period. The incident involving Faleauto put a stop to the student’s momentum as they peppered the Wombat line.

On the resumption of play the Wombats worked their way off their line taking play deep into the Students half of the field. Another of Avondale’s major attacking weapons Andre Itula then stepped up when he attacked from a scrum thirty meters out toying with the defense before scoring. Tuagamala converted for an Avondale 14 – 0 lead after twenty four minutes of play.

At this point of the match Avondale were attacking at every opportunity as a tenacious Uni defensive effort matched much of what Avondale produced. Nepia continued to employ his kicking game to effectively relieve pressure on the student’s line as the bigger more aggressive Avondale pack took its toll on their smaller but willing opponents.  Wombat center Nua Alone then produced a similar effort to his center partner Itula, scoring from a high paced swerving run from thirty out to increase the lead to 19 – 0 after thirty minutes.

With minutes left to the break Uni Lock Carl Lanigan was left motionless on the ground having taken a heavy knock in frantic play close to the Uni line. With tempers flaring, Referee Maughan took control, and after consultation with his assistants he Blue Carding Lanigan, restarting the match with a scrum twenty out from the Uni line. An Avondale scrum win and a strong forward drive saw Prop Anthony Amone eventually cross off the back of a Maul to post the Wombats fourth try, taking a 24 – 0 lead to the break.

A different complexion came over the game in the second term with University’s veteran Half-Back Leon Mason taking control of the proceedings directing his team around the park with great success. Forwards William Wood, Jerome Ramus and Ben Cheatham were prominent as the Uni pack took the match right up to the competition leaders. With their attack focusing on the right side of the field two tries came as Mason and Fly Half Nepia showed all their experience to lead their side right back into the match.

Tries were scored by Simon Douch and Jade Gardiner in similar fashion as first Nepia and then Mason worked the play to the right with long accurate passes creating strong scoring opportunities for their outside backs. Nepia was unable to convert the tries but the students were now heading back into the match trailing 10 – 24 after sixty minutes.

Avondale lost composure as the tenacious students kept coming, with the home side conceding a line of penalties allowing Uni to press towards an unlikely win. With less than fifteen minutes remaining Uni’s busiest player No.8 Ben Cheetham scored with a bustling run down the short side, and with center Charles Curry converting the try the margin was down to seven.

The final moments of the match was enthralling with both sides creating scoring opportunities. The Wombats managed to recapture their composure under the pressure of the final minutes of the match and hold for the win over a very tenacious hard working University side.

The match of two halves kept a strong crowd interested to the end. The first half suggested a comfortable Avondale win with the Wombats producing some of their finest attacking play. But the committed second half effort from a depleted University side missing their Country Rep players was full of merit. The relief of the final whistle shown by the Avondale players was testimony to that.

There were strong performances for Avondale from forwards Anthony Amone, Davidson Maliaga and Amulone Ika with backline stars Silipa Tuagamala, Andre Itula and Nua Alone once again proving their value to the club.

University No.8 Ben Cheetham continues to impress week in and week out with his forward partners Casey Rameka, Jerome Ramus and William Wood also getting through plenty of work. The experience of Mason and Nepia was invaluable for the students today as the pair orchestrated the side’s effort throughout.

Avondale 24 (Andre Itula 1 try, Nua Alone 1 try, Anthony Amone 1 try, Silipa Tuagamala 1 try, 2 goals)

Def University 17 ( Simon Douch 1 try, Jade Gardiner 1 try, Ben Cheetham 1 try, Charles Curry 1 goal)

Other Round 9 Match Results

Shoalhaven 33 Def Campbelltown 14

Bowral 43 Def Tech Waratahs 15

Camden 38 Def Kiama 12

Vikings 38 Def Shamrocks 22

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