Avondale Wombats Power Through To Grand Final

MatchReportAvondale Wombats have secured the first spot in the 2018 Grand Final with a powerful effort against Bowral at Eridge Park. In the most dominant Finals performance we have seen in Illawarra Rugby since the Vikings win over Shamrocks in the 2010 Grand Final, Avondale ran in seven tries in a 43 – 11 rout of the home side.

With a gusting westerly wind impacting on the match, the Wombats put on a high energy power game that a skillful but shell shocked Bowral side couldn’t match. A clever, pin point kicking game from Avondale Fly half Antonio Ale was a feature of the game. Across the park the Wombat defensive effort was impressive with hardly a missed tackle registered against them throughout the match.

The first half of the match was played at pace with both sides keen to throw the ball around and attack despite the windy conditions. Avondale secured the ball from their own kickoff and quickly went on the attack with their big forwards showing their hand immediately taking play deep into the Bowral quarter. Attacking weapon Andre Itula, working off the back of his forwards hard work put fullback Silipa Tuigamala over for the first try after just two minutes. Tuigamala converted from right on the western touchline for a 7 – 0 lead to the visitors.

In similar fashion Bowral regained possession from the kick off and took play inside the Wombats thirty and held field position for much of the next five minutes. Eventually Bowral flyer Henry Yuill found some space outside the strong Avondale defensive line and scooted over in the corner for Bowral’s only try of the match.

Over the next six minutes Bowral threw plenty of attack at the Avondale defense but couldn’t break the strong first up defensive effort coming from the entire Avondale squad. The Blacks settled for a penalty goal to Fly-Half Lachlan Huntington to take the lead for the only time in the match at 8 – 7.

With Wombat No.8 Tuu Taiti-Taanoa and flanker Gus Faleauto terrorizing the Bowral defense Avondale took control of the match running in three tries before the break. Faleauto scored off the back of strong forward play from close range for a 12 – 8 lead before Huntington goaled from a penalty for the Blacks to get within one after twenty minutes play.  

Bowral continued to apply themselves to the effort but the outstanding Avondale defensive performance continued denying the Blacks any real forward progress. However the Wombats pack continued to roll forward with two more tries coming before the break. Giant Front Rower Anthony Amone literally carried several defenders over the line with him to score in the thirtieth minute and with Tuigamala converting the Wombats were out to 19 -11. Center Nua Alone then cleverly changed the angle of attack beating three or four defenders in a swerving run to the line. Another goal to Tuigamla and Avondale led at the break 26 – 11.

Knowing they had to be the first to score in the second half to be any chance of progressing to the big game in two weeks, Bowral came out after the break full of running. They quickly set up camp in the Wombat quarter but as they did in the first forty the Wombats repelled all that the Blacks could throw at the line. No.8 Tim Lewis came close to scoring only to lose the ball agonizingly short of the Wombat line. Shortly after Bowral lost flyer Henry Yuill to what appeared to be a recurrence of his recent lower leg injury which will put him in doubt for the Blacks remaining matches.

Avondale weathered the Blacks best efforts, eventually clearing their line through a strong clearing kick from Ale. Avondale’s discipline let them down with several high tackles giving the Blacks a run of penalties enabling them to keep pressure on the Wombat line. The Blacks field position went unrewarded though as the visitor’s outstanding defense held.

The Avondale forwards power game eventually took its toll with an amazing fifty meter burst from No.8 Taiti-Taanoa taking the play back to the Bowral end of the paddock and the tries came. Andre Itula mesmerized the defense but fell just short of the line in a typical Itula effort. From the ruck just a meter out Half-Back Andrew Duggan dived over in the corner for try number five after sixty minutes.

Despite going down to fourteen players with Flanker Kearin Jack Yellow Carded for repeated infringements, Avondale dominated the remainder of the match. With the heavy workload taking its toll on the smaller but enthusiastic Bowral side two more tries came in the last fifteen minutes of the match.

The first fell to Anthony Amone who scored his second from close range on the back of some great work by young hooker Jeromy Cairns. Cairns, the son of Avondale legend and former Captain Roger, took on the Blacks defense from twenty out bumping off three defenders in a jinking run, only to be pulled down a meter short. Ale converted Amone’s try for a 38 – 11 lead. Ale put on the final try when he toyed with a demoralized Bowral defense to score from twenty out.

It’s difficult to single out any Avondale individuals such was the effort from the Wombats right across the park, but forwards Taiti-Taanoa, Faleauto, Amulone Ika, Anthony Amone, Cairns and Jack deserve a mention. Antonio Ale deserves special mention as his all-round performance was a key to the team’s performance and his kicking game crucial to the outcome. Andrew Duggan put in one of his best performances for the club with centers Itula and Alone strong again as well.     

Bowral put up a solid effort but were simply out muscled by their bigger opponents. Forwards Todd Pearce, Jack Parsons, Tim Lewis and Joshua Dick tried valiantly while backs Tim Small, Christian Vainerere and Ryan Hutchings Knight put in the required effort throughout.

Avondale 43 (Anthony Amone 2 tries, Gus Faleauto 1 try, Nua Alone 1 try, Andrew Duggan 1 try, Antonio Ale 1 try, 1 goal, Silipa Tuigamala 1 try, 3 goals)

Def Bowral 11 (Henry Yuill 1 try, Lachlan Huntington 2 penalty goals)

Lower Grade Results

2nd Grade

Bowral 21 Def Campbelltown 19

3rd Grade

Wollondilly 26 Def Shamrocks 17

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