Bowral Hang On For Major Semi-Final Berth

MatchReportBowral have secured the all-important second spot on the IDRU Builders Club Premiership ladder with a nail biting 30 – 29 victory over University at Eridge Park. The Blacks got away to strong start running in three tries to take a 17 – 0 lead after thirty minutes before Uni crossed for a try one minute before the break and another one minute into the second half to get back into the match.

With the Bowral effort faltering the students put on four second half tries to Bowrals one almost pinching the match and the spot in the Major Semi. A relieved Blacks outfit now goes onto to play Avondale in next Saturday’s Major Semi-Final while the Bulls will be up against Vikings in next Sundays Minor Semi-Final.

Bowral produced their very best form for the first thirty minutes of the match built on their forwards work at the breakdown. The Bulls had no answers for the hard working Bowral forwards as they took the game right up to them creating many attacking opportunities as the home side ran in three tries. Bowral Fly-Half Lachlan Huntington took full advantage of his forwards dominance having a hand in all three tries as the Blacks took control of the match.

It was a long cut out pass from Huntington that created the first try for winger Thomas Mooney with the second try by Flanker Jack Parsons coming from a short ball from the Fly-Half for a 10 – 0 lead after 20 minutes.

The third try came when Front rower Clancy Donan running like a three quarter busted through the Uni defense on halfway and took the ball into the Bulls quarter. In the next phase of play Huntington put big center Christian Vainerere away to score the third try. Huntington could only convert the last touchdown for Bowral to lead 17 – 0 after thirty minutes.    

Inexplicably the Bowral effort waned and the students lifted on the back of some sensational play from back rowers Takunda Chimwaza and Ben Cheetham in particular. A minute before the half-time break Cheetham found some space on the left and showed plenty of pace to outrun the Bowral cover to score in the corner, bringing up the 17 - 5 half-time score.

One minute into the second term Chimwaza put on one of the tries of the year. The flanker took possession of the ball some forty meters out from the Blacks line close to the eastern touchline and set sail for the corner. Bumping off several heavy attempted tackles from the Bowral cover defenders he crossed in the corner to bring the students to with-in seven at 10 – 17.

Bowral regrouped and after finding their structure again appeared to be pulling away toward the Major Semi-Final. Huntington added a penalty goal and then combined again with Vainerere for Bowrals fourth try at the sixty minute mark. Huntington carried the ball to the right side of the field finding Vainerere on the bust and the big center made good the thirty meters to the line. With the try converted by Huntington the Blacks were out to a commanding seemingly insurmountable lead of 27 – 10. After scoring the try Vainerere succumbed to a knee injury and took no further part in the match.  

The mood of the game swung markedly as University refused to concede the match with the Uni forwards led by Casey Rameka, Cheetham and Chimwaza taking control of the breakdown and producing some strong running forays into the Blacks territory. One such charge from Cheetham led to a try by winger Lachlan Conyers which was converted by Tom Baker to reduce the lead to ten.

Huntington took the lead back out to thirteen at 30 – 17 through a penalty goal with fifteen left on the clock, sparking another effort from the students. Two tries came to Uni in the space of four minutes. Hardworking Skipper William Wood scored on the back of some strong forward rushes at the Bowral line from a now dominant Uni pack. Tom Baker missed the conversion leaving the Blacks in front by eight. Three minutes later Baker put up a deft cross field kick into the hands of an unmarked Conyers on the right and the wingman crossed for Uni’s fifth try. With Baker converting the try the margin was one with Bowral in front 30 – 29 with less than ten on the clock.

The final tense minutes of the match had all the hallmarks of finals football as both sides tried in vain to strike a final blow. With Avondale and Vikings both recording convincing final Round 18 wins the stage is now set for what should be a tight and competitive Finals Series starting with next Saturday’s Major Semi Final between Minor Premiers Avondale and Bowral. University and Vikings will meet the next day in the Minor Semi-Final.

Bowral were best served today by forwards Harry Carlon, Todd Pearce and Clancy Donnan up front, as well as backrowers Tim Lewis and Jack Parsons. Huntington was instrumental in the Blacks attacking game with Vainerere and half-back Tim Small busy as well.

University are operating under extreme stress with up to ten first grade players out with long term injuries and were without the inspirational Paul Tuala today as well with a knee infection keeping him on the sideline. Backrowers Chimwaza and Cheetham were simply outstanding today backed up strongly by Prop Rameka and Lock William Wood. Representative Fly-Half Tom Baker was inspirational orchestrating his side’s resurgence in the second half on the back of his hardworking forwards.

Bowral 30 (Christian Vainerere 2 tries, Thomas Mooney 1 try, Jack Parsons 1 try, Lachlan Huntington 2 goals, 2 penalty goals)

Def University 29 (Lachlan Conyers 2 tries, Ben Cheetham 1 try, Takunda Chimwaza 1 try, William Wood 1 try, Tom Baker 2 goals)

Other Match Results

Avondale 52 Def Kiama 0

Shoalhaven 51 Def Camden 22

Shamrocks 24 Def Tech Waratahs 14

Vikings 73 Def Campbelltown 21   

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