Wombats Power Into Grand Final

MatchReportUnbeaten IDRU Minor Premiers Avondale have advanced to the Grand Final in two weeks with a powerful 36 – 20 Major Semi-Final win over a gallant Vikings side at Ocean Park. Scoring five tries to three the Wombats put on a relentless display of power rugby to outplay the Blueys who showed plenty of spirit to go the distance with the Premiership favourites.

The match was marred by several nasty injuries, the worst causing a thirty eight minute delay in the second half when young Wombat winger Mani Tuigamala was knocked unconscious and heavily concussed. Players left the field as Tuigamala was attended to on the ground until he was removed in an ambulance and taken to Wollongong Hospital for evaluation. Vikings are destined to be without their outstanding centre Michael Ashby for the remainder of their finals campaign after he suffered a broken Cheekbone midway through the second half as well.

The match was less than a minute old when Avondale’s Mani Tuigamala opened the scoring. Fielding a misdirected clearing kick from Vikings, Tuigamala raced down the eastern touchline to score his side’s first try. With the try converted by his Fly-Half brother Silipa Tuigamala from wide out Avondale were out 7 – 0.

With the Wombats clicking straight into their best attacking form Vikings managed to restrain them for a period before Skipper Andre Itula made things look too easy bumping off several defenders in a short run to the line to stretch the lead to a point a minute. With Tuigamala converting again the Wombats were at 14 – 0 with thirteen minutes gone.

Vikings managed to regain some composure after the early Wombat onslaught to apply considerable pressure to the Wombat defence. After a long period in the Avondale half of the field, the opening Vikings try came when centre Ashby produced a pin point cut out pass for winger Cheyne Pike to cross in the beachside corner.

The Wombats quickly took back the initiative taking play deep back into Vikings territory on the back of some powerful play from their forwards led by lock Gus Faleauto and workaholic flankers Kyle Moody and Kieran Jack. Jack pounced on a loose Vikings pass, toeing the ball through and after kicking a second time retrieved the ball to score in the clubhouse corner, extending the lead to 19 – 5 after twenty five minutes.

A succession of penalties took Vikings deep into the Avondale quarter and from one such penalty Vikings found touch. From the resulting lineout the Blueys created a well-constructed rolling maul. When it was brought to a standstill by the Wombats, the ever busy Viking Prop Joel Diggins peeled off the maul and found halfback Tommy Sawden in support and the little no. 9 scooted away to score in the corner. With Sawden unable to convert either of the Vikings tries the sides went to the break with Avondale holding a 19 – 10 lead.

The first half belonged to Avondale with strong play from their pack and a sound kicking game from Jacob Kara at the back and Tuigamala at No.10. Vikings however showed plenty of commitment throughout the half to stay in the match with Michael Ashby absolutely outstanding. Vikings Halfback Sawden opened the scoring in the second term with a penalty goal to narrow the margin to six.

With lock Faleauto making several charging runs, the Wombats added try number four when hooker Shane Makea powered over to stretch the lead at the forty eight minute mark. With Tuigamala converting the Wombats went out to a 26 – 13 lead, but the Vikings were not yet ready to concede. Once again on the back of three consecutive penalties Vikings produced an extended assault on the Avondale line resulting in a try to flanker Dane Nethery, converted by Sawden to bring the Blueys right back into contention at 26 - 20.

Five minutes later the Wombats produced a try that saw the ball go through some thirteen sets of hands as the ball travelled from one side of the field to the other and back again. Starting from inside their own half on the sea side of the ground the Wombats looked likely to score in the right corner but for some outstanding scrambling defence from Vikings. Keeping the ball alive they quickly moved the ball back through the hands to the left for wingman Blake Spencer to cross in the left corner. Silipa Tuigamala added the extras with a beautiful side line conversion for a Wombat lead of 33 – 20.

With sixteen minutes left to play and with Vikings strongly attacking the Wombat line, a collision of several players left Mani Tuigamala motionless on the turf. There was great concern for the young wingman as play was disrupted for thirty eight minutes. After the resumption of play the only points came by way of a penalty goal by Silipa Tuigamala to ensure Avondale’s passage through to the big game in two weeks-time at WIN Stadium.

The Wombat attacking game was very evident again today with their powerful forwards leading the way. Their big men Anthony Amone, Steven Fuka and Player of the Match Gus Faleauto were a constant threat with Flankers Kyle Moody and Kieran Jack busy throughout. Silipa Tuigamala was masterful guiding the side around the park with Captain Andre Itula at his very best. Whoever wins through to play the Wombats on September 2 will need to be at the very top of their game to deny the Wombats the IDRU Builders Club Premiership title for 2017.

Vikings showed a lot of commitment to the task today and we can expect another strong effort from them in next week’s Final against either Bowral or University at their home ground Vikings Oval. Once again strongly led by skipper Joel Diggins up front the Blueys were well served by Jack Hobbs, Joshua Heggie and Tomas Claridge in the forwards and in the backs by Tommy Sawden, Jason Reid and Beau Midgley who finished the match with a badly broken nose. The loss of Michael Ashby is a major blow for the Blueys and he will be very difficult to replace.

Avondale 36 (Mani Tuigamala 1 try, Andre Itula 1 try, Kieran Jack 1 try, Shane Makea 1 try, Blake Spencer 1 try, Silipa Tuigamala 4 goals, 1 penalty goal)

Def Vikings 20 (Cheyne Pike 1 try, Dane Nethery 1 try, Tommy Sawden 1 try, 1 goal, 1 penalty goal)

Lower Grade Match Results

Second Grade

Vikings 19 Def Camden 15

Third Grade

Shoalhaven 21 Def Avondale 10

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