Bowral Rebirth Complete With Grand Final Victory

MatchReportThe Rebirth of the Bowral Rugby Club is complete after the Blacks heroic 34 – 18 Grand Final win over red hot favorites Avondale in summery conditions at WIN Stadium. With the hard working Bowral forwards led by big front rower Todd Pearce taking the match right up to the much vaunted Wombat pack, the Blacks reversed the Major Semi-Final result of two weeks ago to take their first IDRU title since 1999.

In an epic decider the Blacks scored four tries to three, with IDRU Player of the Year, Lachlan Huntington producing another masterful display scoring fourteen points and guiding his side around the park with an expert kicking and passing display. But it was an outstanding defensive effort from the Blacks that contributed most to the turnaround from the Semi in which they conceded seven tries to the Wombats.

After a hard fought first forty minutes the match was very evenly poised at 13 all at the break but the Blacks finished the stronger of the two sides putting on three tries in the last twenty five minutes of the game. The Bowral supporters showed their appreciation for the performance of front rower Todd Pearce as they cheered the big man from the field in the dying minutes of the match. Pearce led the Bowral pack superbly laying the foundation for the historical win.

In a sometimes spiteful first half Avondale played their customary power game testing the Bowral defense throughout with the first try to Fly Half Antonio Ale coming after eight minutes of play. Fullback Silipa Tuigamala joined in a backline raid drawing two defenders before setting Ale away for the try wide out. Tuigamala missed the conversion but added a penalty goal soon after to extend the Wombats lead to 8 – 0.

With twenty three minutes gone Huntington kicked a long range penalty goal minutes before Halfback Tim Small put on a try for winger Tom Mooney from a scrum forty out. Small went to the blind drawing two defenders releasing Mooney down the eastern touchline. With a big in and away Mooney left Tuigamala in his wake and scored wide on the right. Huntington’s conversion from the sideline gave Bowral the lead at 10 – 8.

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The Rogues Rant

RoguesRantWelcome to The Rogues Rant, an occasional look at all things Rugby.

If you enjoyed watching the Shute Shield on 7Two each week this year it’s no thanks to the Rugby hierarchy. In what would be of no surprise to many Rugby Australia and NSW Rugby made no financial contribution to getting this coverage on free to air TV. Rugby nuts Nick Fordham and John Murray, the President of Eastern Suburbs Rugby Union Club, put up their own money to finance this very successful high rating exercise. When approached for assistance to promote the venture the governing bodies decided not to assist with the promotion of what is grass roots rugby once again. Certainly no surprises there.

The proudest man at WIN Stadium this week no doubt will be Bowral stalwart Mark Freund. Mark will be on the field for the second grade Grand Final with a bunch of his best mates. The big easy talking humble front rower has seen the club through the darkest days of the last ten years. Even when the club was at deaths door a few years ago Mark as President, wouldn’t hear of the demise of the great Southern Highlands club. The success the club is now enjoying would not have eventuated if not for the drive and determination of Mark and his band of workers who have dragged the club back from the brink and now deserve all the success that is coming their way both on and off the field. Well done Mark Freund.

Plenty of points scored last week in the NRC. Three sides now have two from two. Western Force were impressive winners over NSW Country Eagles by 54 – 28 and are looking as though they are going to be hard to beat each week. Fijian Drua is on top of the table after thrashing Brisbane City 66 - 5 and has a one point lead over Western Force. Queensland Country are one point behind with two from two also after a one point 29 – 28 win over Melbourne. This week Queensland Country has the Drua at home while the Eagles play Melbourne at Mudgee. The Sydney Rays play Brisbane at Woollahra Oval while on Sunday Canberra is up against the Force at Vikings Park. Three from four for me last week, my tips this week are, Drua, Eagles, Rays and Force.

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Huntington IDRU Player Of The Year

2018 27 Lachlin HuntingtonBowral Blacks exciting Fly Half Lachlan Huntington took out the big prize at the IDRU Grand Final Dinner on Wednesday night. Huntington who will have a key role in Saturdays Grand Final against Avondale, was on hand to receive the IDRU Player of the Year Award for 2018.

Huntington polled top points just ahead of runner up, Shoalhavens Steven Brandon, capping off a big maiden First Grade year with Bowral. After starring for the Blacks Grand Final winning 2nd Grade side in 2017, Huntington stepped up to the top grade this season making the No.10 jumper his own and guiding the side to great success. The award presentation comes on the back of his twenty point haul in last Saturday’s Final victory over University which propelled the Blacks into their first Grand Final since 2002.

Bowral coach Gene Fairbanks was again awarded the Coach of the Year prize for the third year in succession but shares it this year with University Coach Dion Miller. Mark Brandon from Shoalhaven took both the Points scoring awards as leading try scorer and highest overall point’s scorer.

The all-important Volunteer of the Year Awards both went to the Campbelltown Harlequins club. Faith Everingham took the senior award, while Adam Campbell was awarded the Junior Volunteer of the Year.

After being named as the Referee for Saturday’s 2nd Grade Grand Final between Bowral and Campbelltown former IDRU Player of the Year from several years ago, Andrew Strode was awarded Referee of the Year.

In a bumper season for the Dexter Porter Blood Cup with a record number of clubs participating and the highest number of donations made for the season, Shamrocks took home the trophy for 2018.

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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.

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The Rogues Rant

RoguesRantWelcome to The Rogues Rant, an occasional look at all things Rugby.

Vikings are the first side out of this year’s Finals after their last second loss to University last Sunday. The heartbreaking 22 – 21 one point loss was hard to take for the Vikings diehards in the healthy crowd but what goes around comes around. In the 2017 Final, also played at Vikings Oval, it was Vikings captain Joel Diggins who scored a last minute try to eliminate the Students from last year’s title race. This year it was Country Cockatoos Rep Takunda Chimwaza as the hero, scoring a last second try for the Bulls and with a conversion from Charlie Curry it was Uni who stayed in the running this time around. Uni now go on to play Bowral for a spot in the big one against a red hot Avondale at WIN Stadium on September 15. I have it on pretty good authority that Sundays game was probably the last with Coach Sean Barrett calling the shots for the Blueys. After four years in the job Sean is looking at his future but I reckon it’s a pretty sure bet that there will be a change in the Coaching Staff at the Wollongong club in 2019.          

Well Michael Cheika has shaken things up a bit for Saturday’s vital test against South Africa in Brisbane. Bernard Foley has been left on the bench after being pretty much a permanent fixture in the Wallaby side over the last three years since Cheika took over in 2015. In what is a very interesting move Kurtley Beale has the number 10 with Matt Toomua wearing the number 12. Rory Arnold will start at Lock while on the bench Ned Hannigan returns and Joe Powell will be the spare Halfback with Nick Phipps out injured. Israel Folau returns from injury at Fullback, while Rob Simmons, Sekope Kepu and Pete Samu all lose their spots in the squad. Cheika is looking for a different attitude from his squad and it is very much needed. The Springboks have had a win and a loss to the Pumas over the last couple of weeks but are clearly not up to All Black standards but they will certainly be a big assignment for the under pressure Australians. A win is essential if the Wallabies are going to be able to quieten down their detractors after the disappointing performances against the All Blacks.

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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.

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