Uni Snatch Final Spot From Vikings

MatchReportA last second Takunda Chimwaza try has propelled University into next week’s Preliminary Final against Bowral. With Vikings holding a six point advantage and time up, Chimwaza powered over to score and with a Charles Curry conversion from in front  University snatched a 22 – 21 victory. In what was a tight, typical finals match in which the lead changed seven times, each side scored three tries but it was the students who made more of their limited opportunities in an evenly contested match.

Both sides were affected by injury and unavailability as Uni continues to struggle to manage a huge injury toll at the club and Vikings were missing key backline players and also with Captain Joel Diggins unavailable overseas. In the first twenty minutes of the match both sides set about testing each others defense with neither side able to strike a telling blow.

In a bazar twist first points came to The Bulls through a Charles Curry penalty goal after Vikings were awarded a penalty in midfield. Referee Andrew Strode reversed the penalty after some verbal comments were made by Vikings players. Curry stepped up kicked a long range goal with the assistance of the strong south easterly wind. Uni took the lead 3 – 0 after fifteen minutes in what proved to be a significant factor in the student’s eventual win.

Play moved from end to end with the defense of both sides proving more than capable. Each side withstood long periods of sustained attack on their line before a try came to each side in the final fifteen minutes of the half. The first came to Vikings Flanker Thomas Claridge who took full advantage of one of Halfback Tom Sawdens darting runs close to the Uni line. Claridge scored inside the Posts after the Sawden run fell a meter short. Sawden converted and Vilings were in front for the first time at 7 – 3.

Paul Tuala crossed for Uni after the students had peppered the Blueys line for a long period. Tuala strolled over the line in an innocuous fashion from close range with two defenders giving little resistance. Curry converted and the students were back in front at 10 – 8.

Vikings surged after the try and on the back of a run of penalties spent the final minutes of the half in the Uni quarter. They had several opportunities to kick penalty goals but chose to play on only to be held up over the line in the dying stages of the half.

The second term saw Uni come out with an adjusted backline with several players changing positions and form back rower Ben Cheetham joining the match after spending the first half on the bench. But it was Vikings who came out with a more vigorous attitude immediately putting the Bulls under pressure at their own line. A string of penalties came Vikings way which resulted in a general warning to Uni from Referee Strode. After Sawden missed with one penalty goal attempt they eventually breached the Bulls line. Sawden took a quick tap and found center Paul Henshaw with a bit of space as the big center took a couple of defenders over the line and with Sawdens conversion Vikings regained the lead after sixty minutes at 14 – 10.  

The tries kept coming with hardworking Prop Hemana Wickliffe barging his way over the line for Uni to take back the lead at 15 – 14, but the lead was short lived. Minutes later standout Vikings No.8 Joshua Heggie took several defenders over the line with him in front of the clubhouse for a converted try which put the Blueys back in front  21 – 15, setting up what was to be a frantic final fifteen minutes.

As was the case throughout the match the sides once again worked hard defensively to keep their lines intact as it appeared that Vikings were going to hang on and advance through to next week’s final. Uni took advantage of a string of Late penalties to take play deep into Vikings zone were the outstanding in form Chimwaza came up with his strong run beating three defenders over the line to score the match winner. Curry made no mistake with the conversion from right in front for Uni to progress to play Bowral in the Final next week.

It was a tough physical match typical of finals football which could have gone either way as shown by the closeness of the finish. Vikings in general had the better of the play for most of the match but the fight in this depleted University side cannot be denied.

For Uni Takunda Chimwaza was simply outstanding working himself into the ground in both attack and defense. Not far behind him were fellow forwards Casey Rameka, Wickliffe, Michael Malaki, and the ever present Paul Tuala. Tom Baker who started the match at Fullback but switched to halfback for the second half continued his good form, with Charles Curry and replacement Ben Cheetham having strong games.

Vikings will rue their choice not to take points through penalty goals when on offer late in the first half, but their effort was strong just the same. Joshua Wigmore led the forwards well in the absence of Captain Diggins with back rowers Jack Hobbs, Claridge, Dane Nethery and Heggie attracting plenty of admirers. Sawden was his usual effervescent self with Jason Reid probing at the Uni line all day, with centers Paul Henshaw and Liam Antrobus proving a handful for the Uni defense.       

 University 22 (Paul Tuala 1 try, Hemana Wickliffe 1 try, Takunda Chimwaza 1 try, Charles Curry 2 goals, 1 penalty goal)

Def Vikings 21 (Thomas Claridge 1 try, Paul Henshaw 1 try, Joshua Heggie 1 try, Tom Sawden 3 goals)

Lower Grade Matches

2nd Grade

Avondale 20 Def Shamrocks 17

3rd Grade

Bowral 18 Def Kiama 10

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