Shamrocks Stay Alive In Finals Race

MatchReportIn an eventful somewhat bizarre eighty minutes of Rugby at Gerry Cappetta Oval on Saturday, Shamrocks have kept their tenuous semi-final hopes alive with a 38 – 24 win over Avondale. Referee Andrew Strode had his hands full from the outset as the match started in a frantic aggressive manner, culminating in a nasty melee involving just about every player on the field after just three minutes.

Following a heavy tackle by Wombat center Nua Alone on Shamrock skipper Anthony Allport, players from both sides came together mid field in a spiteful exchange which left Allport prone on the ground nursing a facial injury.

Once calm was restored Referee Strode consulted with his experienced assistants John Salisbury and Neill Greaves and the colored cards were produced. Shamrocks Fullback Rhys Peters saw Yellow as he was adjudged to be the third player involved in the melee. Wombat center Alone was Yellow Carded as well for striking. Then star Avondale Fullback Silipa Tuigamala was called out and Red Carded, destined to face a Contrary Conduct - Striking charge at Judiciary which will put him in extreme danger of missing the Final series.

As the player’s nerves settled the football started with the Wombats posting first points through big No. 8 Tuumuliileuao Taiti-Taanoa who had a clear run to the line on the end of a long pass to score in the twelfth minute. Minutes later the Rocks cleaver No.9 Rory Davis deftly put Jesse Roche through a gap close to the Avondale line for the front rower to score the first of his two tries for the day. A conversion from Lock Heath Mercer gave the Rocks the lead 7 – 5 after seventeen minutes.

Both sides settled down to their work with play moving at pace and with heavy exchanges between both packs the bigger Wombat eight started to gain the ascendancy. In a five minute period Avondale put on two tries as they produced their best attacking form.

On the back of trademark strong forward play from the Wombats it fell to winger Blake Spencer to score out wide after Fly-Half Antonio Ale put Lock Amulone Ika away down the left. Halfback Andrew Duggan missed with his second conversion attempt but Avondale were back in front 10 – 7. Three minutes later on the back of more forward dominance, Front-Rower Anthony Amone was pulled down just short of the Rocks line, and after two more phases of play Taanoa crossed for his second try of the match. Ale took over the kicking duties, converting the try as the Wombats took a ten point 17 – 7 lead with thirteen left in the half.

Four minutes from the break Wombat’s Nua Alone was once again called out after some frantic play close to the Avondale line.  Alone was adjudged to have made a high tackle and given his second Yellow Card. Automatically this becomes a Red Card with the center now also required to attend the next Judiciary hearing, and Avondale were now down two players for the remainder of the match.

As half-time beckoned Rocks No.8 Iszak Lunney, broke form a scrum twenty out and went to the blind where he drew the defenders giving the speedy Rory Davis a clear run to the line for Shamrocks second try. Mercer kicked his second conversion to bring the Rocks to within three at the break with Avondale clinging to a 17 – 14 lead.

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The Rogues Rant

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

Ellis Park, Johannesburg must be the best home ground advantage in the world, certainly the Rugby World. The altitude of the arena really plays into the hands of the home side as was plain to see last week in the Lions Semi Final against the Waratahs. The Waratahs got off to a perfect start scoring fourteen points in the first ten minutes, but the further the match went into the second half the stronger the Lions played as the Waratahs waned physically. The distress in the faces of the Tahs players late in the match was there for everyone to see. As Bernard Foley was lining up a kick the camera focused on a man struggling to catch his breath. There’s no question that the Lions are a very good Rugby side and with the advantage of Ellis Park very difficult to beat at home as the Waratahs can testify. The Lions have to travel this week to the Crusaders in Christchurch to try and avenge last year’s Final loss to the New Zealanders. The Crusaders are the only side to take the title outside their own country as they did last year at the afore mentioned Ellis Park. I don’t think the Lions can do likewise by winning this week at AMI Stadium, Christchurch. Crusaders to Win.

Speaking of the Waratahs, there’s plenty of people saying that we won’t see Israel Folau in a Waratahs jumper in 2019. I reckon he can pretty much name his own price anywhere in the world at the moment which is going to make it very hard for NSW to secure his signature going forward.

There are another couple of very important games locally this week. With three rounds remaining before the finals, Avondale have once again opened up an eight point gap at the top of the Table. Bowral are second just ahead on averages of Uni who both sit on 56 points with ten wins each. Vikings are next on 50 with ten wins as well but with less bonus points. Shamrocks and Shoalhaven are next on 46 and 45 respectively and feature in the this week’s key match ups. There are still plenty of ifs and buts about the last three rounds but losses to the Rocks and Shoalies this week will just about end their runs for this year. Campbelltown and Camden meet at Campbelltown Showground with both sides on 17 just three clear of last placed Kiama. Both sides will be desperate for a win to help keep clear of the dreaded wooden spoon. On their home ground despite a big loss last week, I think the Quinnies can get the points here. Campbelltown to Win. Kiama Host Vikings at Kiama Showground and will still be licking their wounds after last week’s loss to Shoalhaven. Vikings must keep winning if they are any chance of creeping up to a Major Semi-Final berth, and I think they will. Vikings to Win. University are at home to neighbors Tech Waratahs and can expect plenty from the committed improvers of this year. The Bulls will need to be on their game and not be complacent or they could find themselves on the wrong end of the score-line. University to Win. Bowral and Shoalhaven meet at Eridge Park in what should be another close one after these two played out a draw back in Round 7. Bowral have to win to stay in the hunt for second spot while the Shoalies are even more desperate for the win to stay in touch with the top four. Should be a cracker but I’ll go for the home side. Bowral to Win. In what is billed as the Match of the Round, Avondale are home to Shamrocks. A win for the Wombats will just about seal the Minor Premiership, but they won’t get things all their own way with the tenacious Rocks. This will be a close one but I think the hosts can just prevail. Avondale to win.

All opinions offered in this column are the opinion of the author. They should not be considered to represent the views of the IDRU.

Vikings Snatch Late Victory Over Bowral

MatchReportVikings have maintained their run toward this year’s Semi- Finals in the IDRU Builders Club Premiership with a last minute   22 – 16 home victory over Bowral. The win, which enables the Blueys to retain fourth spot, came in the last minute of the match when little men Tom Sawden and Jason Reid combined to put on a fifty five meter match winning try.

Bowral enjoyed a 13 – 3 half time lead with a strong defensive effort in what was a semi-final style intense encounter.  Despite losing Hooker Joshua Dick to the bin for ten minutes late in the half, the Blacks strongly closed down the Vikings attack whilst putting on their own five pointer through giant center Christian Vainerere. But it was the Blueys who took control of much of the proceedings in the second half running in three tries, the last enabling them to take the lead in the match for the first and only time.

The respective goal kickers Lachlan Huntington for Bowral and Tom Sawden for Vikings exchanged goals early for Bowral to lead 6 – 3 after fifteen minutes. Vainerere’s try came in the twenty second minute with the big center showing all his power and speed bumping off three defenders in a twenty meter run to the line. Huntington’s conversion brought up the half-time lead as Bowral appeared to be heading for another win.

Player of the Match Michael Ashby led the way for the Blueys after the break on the back of a lift in effort from the Blue forwards. Locks Jack Hobbs and Cody Roman along with Joel Diggins took the ball up strongly and with Ashby making space for his outside backs the tries had to come.

Flanker Dane Nethery found some space wide on the right sending Beau Midgley away on a run deep into the Blacks quarter. Midgley positioned his center partner Paul Henshaw who scored out wide to bring the Blueys back into the match at 13 – 8.

With the intensity of the hard fought match showing no signs of waning Huntington added a penalty goal to stretch the lead to eight points at 16 - 8 after sixty minutes. But within minutes Vikings posted their second try. Center Midgley taking advantage of another Ashby charge broke through on halfway taking play once again deep into the Blacks half of the field. After three strong phases of play Midgley popped up again wide on the left to score his side’s second touchdown. Sawden converted from near touch and the Blueys were within one of the lead at 16 – 15 with fifteen still left to play.

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The Rogues Rant

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

Two Campbelltown Women’s players have won selection in the 28 member Wallaroos squad preparing for the two Test Series against New Zealand Black Ferns. Atasi Lafai and Mahalia Murphy are two of eleven NSW players in the squad getting ready for the First Test in Sydney on August 18 as part of the double header with the Wallabies V All Black Bledisloe Cup match. It’s been a big year for the girls with plenty of Rugby behind them and plenty to come. What an opportunity for the Quinnies based girls which is sure to be an inspiration to others in our area showing that there is a pathway available in the women’s game for local girls.

What a performance from the Waratahs in last Saturday’s Quarter-Final against the Highlanders. Down 23 – 6 at the break, and looking like another capitulation was on the cards, the Tahs produced an amazing second half effort to book a Semi spot with the Lions. It was the big three of Folau, Beale and Foley who turned the game on its head when the Highlanders were reduced to fourteen with winger Waisake Naholo sin binned. Foley put on 25 points for the match with two tries and six goals with Folau getting one try, but is was Beale, who had a hand in two of the tries who turned the match the Tahs way. Since his return from overseas Beale has shown that he has learnt how to play for the players around him rather than for himself as he tended to do in the past. So now it’s to Ellis Park this week for what is a big ask at any time let alone for a Semi-Final against arguably the form team of the Season. If the Tahs can win and the Hurricanes knock off the Crusaders the Final will come to Sydney. I just can’t see that happening. My Tips: the Crusaders, and the Lions.

It’s Digger Day at Shoalhaven Rugby Park this Saturday. The very Special Last Post Ceremony will be the highlight of the day which celebrates the Shoalies very special connection with the military in the area. Three Navy Helicopters will fly in several highly decorated Servicemen and Civilians during the afternoon. There will be Victoria Cross recipients, along with George Cross and Cross of Valour medal winners present as well. The day kicks off at 10.30AM with the Second Grade match between Shoalhaven and Kiama. Second Grade will be followed by the special ceremony of the day with First Grade to kick off at 1.30PM, followed by Third Grade at 3.00PM.

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Razzle Dazzle Premiers Blitz Blueys

MatchReportDefending Premiers Avondale Wombats have turned on the Razzle Dazzle in a nine tries to two, 55 – 12 demolition of Grand Finalists Vikings at Gerry Cappetta Oval. A jubilant Wombats Coach Murray MacDonald was ecstatic with his team’s performance. “I’m very happy. It was our best performance of the year. We’ve made a couple of changes to our backline structure and it really came good today”, said the premiership winning coach after his sides twelfth win of the year  

The switching of Silipa Tuigamala from Fly-Half to Fullback following the Wombats loss to Bowral paid huge dividends today with the flamboyant fullback scoring two tries and having a hand in several others. A Bonus Point earning four tries were on the board by the break and five more followed the interval in what was a completely dominant performance from the Premiers.

Vikings started the match with plenty of structure and composure taking the lead through a try by winger Adam Rodd after ten minutes and looked to be building for a strong performance against the competition leaders.

Wombats Fly Half Antonio Ale responded minutes later for Avondale with a try that sparked the Wombat attacking machine into action. Ale scored after Flanker Gus Faleauto made a charging run at the Vikings line which inspired the Wombat pack to knuckle down to their work.

Led up front by their young front rowers, the Amone brothers, Anthony and little brother Tavite, and impressive Hooker Jeromy Cairns the Wombats powered into their game as the Vikings defense fell apart. Winger Jesse Leng crossed after Tuigamala bumped off two defenders opening up a clear run to the line for his wingman.

With the Vikings one on one defensive effort leaving a lot to be desired Avondale launched wave after wave of attack at the Vikings line. After Wombats had players held up over the line by desperate and tiring Vikings defenders on two occasions, Lock Amulone Ika scored a converted try and shortly after winger Blake Spencer took advantage of a wicked bounce from an Antonio Ale attacking kick to post his side’s fourth try. Tuigamala converted two of the tries as the Wombats took a 24 – 5 lead to the break.

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The Rogues Rant

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

Courtesy once again of the Old Illawarrior I read a very quirky and charming article this week from across the Ditch. At a time when there is plenty being said about Grass Roots Rugby in this country it’s interesting to see that they are having similar problems in this regard in New Zealand as well. Perhaps not however on the same scale as here in Australia, these changing social times are impacting on the traditional game in New Zealand as well. This article looks at the Dean Cup in the Taranaki region of the North Island, a cup with over 100 years of local Rugby history. The article comes from the New Zealand Herald and is well worth a read! Check it out; it’s a feel good story. https://www.nzherald.co.nz/indepth/sport/dean-cup-rugby/

The attacking flair of the Brandon brothers down Shoalhaven way came to the fore again last week. In an amazing performance the Brothers between them scored all the Shoalies points in their vital 44 – 36 win over Vikings. Mark crossed for 4 tries, while Steven could only manage one for the day, a quiet one for him. Kieran came up with 2 tries and added 4 goals from the boot. All season the boys have been exciting fans from all clubs as they continually express themselves, showing amazing speed, agility and strength as they play a pivotal role in the Shoalies charge to the finals. Let’s hope they can stay healthy, not only for the sake of the Shoalies run to the finals but for the sheer pleasure that they bring to Rugby fans allover.

Well it’s Finals time for Super Rugby this week. It’s really hard to get excited given the whole atmosphere surrounding Super Rugby. The form of several teams over the last few weeks following the International hiatus has left a bit to be desired leading into the Finals Series, The Waratahs included. The Waratahs form against the Brumbies would not have filled the most ardent NSW supporter with any great amount of confidence going into this week’s match up with the Highlanders. I think we will still have three Kiwi sides alive going into the next week. My tips for the first week of Finals: Hurricanes, Crusaders, Highlanders and Lions.

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