Huntington Steers Bowral to Grand Final

MatchReportBowral Fly Half Lachlan Huntington has steered the Blacks through to their first Grand Final since 2002. In a hard fought defense oriented Final at Shoalhaven Rugby Park, Bowral has ended University’s campaign with a narrow 25 – 18 win.

Huntington’s form in both attack and defense was a standout as he directed the side around the park, but it was a wonderful display of long range goal kicking from the No.10 that gives the Blacks another shot at Avondale at WIN Stadium next week.

With twenty three penalties punctuating an intense game, Huntington kicked six long range penalty goals and a conversion to rack up twenty points for the win despite the Bulls registering two tries to one, including a penalty try.

Despite there only being three tries in the match it was an entertaining match with both sides throwing the ball around in search of points but outstanding defense across the park dominated the day.

Bowral had the first chance to score shortly after the start when Christian Vainerere, playing on the left wing, set sail down the line. Veteran Uni fullback Donovan Nepia had his measure though forcing him into touch with a powerful covering tackle setting the trend for the day. The Blacks settled for a Penalty goal to Huntington to take a 3 – 0 lead after three minutes.

The following ten minutes belonged to Uni who on the back of four penalties peppered the Bowral line but were unable to breach the Blacks committed goal line defense. Eventually the Bulls settled for the points with Charlie Curry kicking a penalty goal to tie the score after thirteen minutes.  

From the restart Uni quickly took play back into the Blacks half with Nepia producing a run down the left out of nothing. He took on several defenders before putting winger Tyler Aitkin in space who scooted away to score wide on the left. Curry couldn’t convert from the touch line but the Bulls now led 8 – 3.

The frantic pace of the game continued with the sides producing strong attacking raids but an even stronger defensive effort prevailed across the park.  From an attacking Bowral line out fifteen out from the Uni line, Blacks Flanker Jack Parsons wrapped around the back of the line finding center Justin Madden on the burst with a flat pass. Madden forced his way over and with a conversion from Huntington, Bowral hit the lead 10 – 8 after twenty minutes.

With University 2014 Grand Final hero Half-Back Leon Mason and Fly Half Tom Baker leading the charge for the Bulls, the students threw everything at the Bowral defense over the final stages of the half. Mason and Nepia combined in one raid which saw Nepia just fail to score after being unable to ground a clever kick through from the half back. The defensive effort from the Blacks led by front rower Todd Pearce was outstanding.

Huntington goaled again from forty out to extend the Bowral lead to 13 – 8 as the half time break closed in. Bowral lost hard working No.8 Harry Carlon to a blue card after he was knocked out and must now be in doubt for the last game of the year. His replacement Tim Lewis made an immediate impact on the game and proved to be one of the Blacks best for the remainder of the match. Charlie Curry added a penalty for the Bulls on the stroke of half-time to reduce the lead to 13 – 11.

The intensity of the match continued into the second term. Just two minutes into the Half, Uni were reduced to fourteen players when No.8 Paul Tuala was binned for stomping but it was the students who got the better of this time. Huntington kicked another penalty goal for a 16 – 11 lead but with Mason and Nepia again calling the shots the Bulls advanced to the Bowral quarter.

A penalty close to the Blacks line saw Uni elect to go to a scrum ten out. With Uni trying for a push over try another penalty came their way. This scenario was repeated three times with Referee John Maughan eventually going to the posts and awarding Uni a Penalty Try, giving the Bulls the lead at 18 - 16. 

The intensity continued for the remainder of the match with neither side able to crack their opponent’s defense but the Blacks slowly gained field supremacy and when the penalties came Huntington stood up slotting three more goals to establish the final score and take the Blacks to the Grand Final.       

The Bowral pack worked hard throughout led up front by prop Todd Pearce with Mitchell Hardy, Carlon, Lewis and flankers Max Jenkins and Jack Parsons tireless. Lachlan Huntington starred for the Blacks in both attack and defense on top of his seven goals from nine attempts proving to be difference in the sides for this match. Also strong in the backs were Vainerere, Madden and wingman Tom Mooney.

Uni’s forwards matched their opponents throughout with big games from Wayne Ngatai, Michael Malaki, Casey Rameka and Paul Tuala. Intelligent play from Mason and Nepia well supported by Tom Baker kept Uni in the contest but on the back of their horrific injury toll the students lacked the attacking penetration to get the job done.

Bowral 25 (Justin Madden 1 try, Lachlan Huntington 1 goal, 6 penalty goals)

Def University 18 (Tyler Aitkin 1 try, 1 Penalty Try, Charles Curry 2 penalty goals)

Lower Grade Match Results

2nd Grade

Campbelltown 43 Def Avondale 7

3rd Grade

Shoalhaven 13 Def Bowral 6

Camden 22 Def Wollondilly 5

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