Avondale Complete Perfect Season

MatchReportAvondale Wombats delivered the final touches on the 2017 IDRU Builders Club Premiership with a 27 – 12 Grand Final victory over Vikings at WIN Stadium. In recording their twentieth win of their unbeaten season, the Wombats were powerful in a four tries to two win to put the final exclamation mark on a remarkable year for the club.

Despite having the better of the contest for a twenty minute period of the second half Vikings were never able to get themselves into a winning position in the face of the customary Wombats power game. Vikings defensive effort was outstanding as they battled gamely throughout the match under the pressure of the relentless Avondale attacking machine. As they have done all season Wombats star Fly-half, Silipa Tuigamala and skipper Andre Itula took full advantage of the superior performance of their forward pack featuring powerhouse prop Anthony Amone. The Wombats forward pack terrorised the Vikings defence as the Wombats put on three first half tries to go to the break with a commanding match defining19 – 0 lead.

Vikings outscored the new Premiers in the second term but the damage had been done by half time and despite playing short-handed with two players in the bin during the second stanza the Wombats came home strong with a barnstorming Anthony Amone try to seal the win right on full-time.

Fullback Jacob Kara opened the scoring in the decider in the tenth minute after Itula ran wide opening up a big gap in the Blueys defence for Kara to breeze through and score wide out. With the try converted by Tuigamala for a 7 – 0 lead, Wombats dominated field position for the next twenty minutes as the Blueys defence held firm under extreme pressure before Amone crossed for the first of his two tries with less than ten minutes to the break. Tuigamala added a clever converted try of his own after he combined with blind side winger Blake Spencer to cross in the shadows of halftime setting up a match winning margin of 19 – 0.

The second half saw a bit of a lapse in discipline from the Wombats as a series of penalties allowed Vikings to mount a considerable amount of pressure on the Avondale line. Captain Joel Diggins crashed over for one of his trademark barging tries from close range to raise the hopes of the Vikings faithful, reducing Wombats lead to twelve after Tommy Sawden converted the try.

As the poor discipline continued from the Wombats, half-back Andrew Duggan got his marching orders to the Bin after a succession of infringements. The Wombats defence held firm whilst they were outnumbered as Vikings couldn’t take full advantage of the situation with their line-out letting them down and some poor handling costing them scoring opportunities.

Just prior to the end of Duggan’s Bin time his teammate Gus Faleauto was Yellow Carded as well after further infringements. However whilst shorthanded it was the Avondale forwards who once again took control leading to a long range penalty goal from Tuigamala to increase the lead to fifteen points at 22 – 7 with twelve minutes to play. Hard working Blueys No.8 Joshua Heggie breathed some life into the Vikings cause when he spun out of several tackles to cross for Vikings second try which went unconverted but still meant Vikings needed to score twice with less than ten to play.

On the back of more power plays from the Wombat forwards Amone ran twenty metres to score his second try in the dying stages of the match sparking well deserved celebrations from the large contingent of Avondale supporters at the ground as the final seconds ticked down.

With Vikings putting up a courageous effort in the face of a relentless Wombat attack the game was in the balance at 7 – 0 to Avondale after thirty minutes of play. The two Avondale tries that came in the ten minutes prior to half-time proved to be the crucial plays of the match. The Blueys outscored the new Premiers 12 – 8 in the second term but it was not enough to deny Avondale the title after an outstanding and memorable twenty match winning streak.

The Vikings forward pack worked doggedly throughout in the face of their much bigger opponent with backrowers Thomas Claridge, Dane Nethery and Joshua Heggie working themselves to a standstill. Big Captain Joel Diggins led from the front with Lock Cody Roman once again showing a maturity beyond his years. Tommy Sawden and Jason Reid left nothing in the bag with centre Luke Bertram contributing strongly for the second week running.

It is difficult to single out any of the Wombat forwards for special mention such was the performance of the side as a whole. Locks Gus Faleauto and Tom Taiti-Taanoa were powerful contributing many metres to the cause. Loose forwards Kyle Moody, Kearin Jack and skipper Steven Fuka, playing his final match, were instrumental in the sides performance. Whilst in the backs it was Tuigamala and centres Itula and Nua Alone who caused most of the headaches for the Blueys defensive line. Andre Itula was awarded the Geoff Shaw Medal as Player of the Grand Final.

The two sides proved to be the best two sides for 2017 but there can be no denying the very special performance of Avondale in completing the perfect season winning all twenty matches they have competed in during the year. The Club takes the Builders Club Trophy and the Burraneer Cup to add to the Minor Premiership Trophy and the all-important Club Championship Trophy for 2017. It will now be up to the well positioned Vikings club and all the other Illawarra Clubs to mount the challenge that will be required to deny Avondale future success.

Avondale 27 (Anthony Amone 2 tries, Jacob Kara 1 try, Silipa Tuigamala 1 try, 2 goals, 1 penalty goal)

Def Vikings 12 (Joel Diggins 1 try, Joshua Heggie 1 try, Tommy Sawden 1 goal)

Geoff Shaw Medal Winner – Andre Itula (Avondale)

Lower Grade Grand Finals

Second Grade

Bowral 35 (Inoke Kaitabu 1 try, Cameron Madden 1 try, Thomas Mulready 1 try, Robert Alves 1 try, Lachlin Huntington 3 goals, 3 penalty goals)

Def Vikings 10 (Ethan Noonan 1 try, Jared Constable 1 try)

Player of the Grand Final – Lachlin Huntington – Bowral

Third Grade

Shoalhaven 24 (Ben Dennis 1 try, David Sproule 1 try, Leith Cooper 2 goals, 1 field goal, 1 Penalty Try)

Def Vikings 0

Player of the Grand Final – Timothy Murphy - Shoalhaven

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