Costly Win For University Over Shamrocks

MatchReportIn a high paced enthralling Rugby match at Ocean Park, University have retained fourth spot on the competition table with a 24 – 17 victory over a gallant Shamrocks side. The win came at a huge cost to the students with major injuries adding to their already lengthy casualty list for the season. Young Lock John Melville suffered an ankle dislocation and soon after with fifteen minutes left in the first half the students lost star center Sam Latu with a suspected broken leg.

The match was played at a brisk pace throughout with the result in the balance until a last minute try by Paul Tuala sealed the four tries to three victory for the Bulls. University guided around the park once again by veterans Leon Mason and Donovan Nepia turned on an expansive attacking game which was matched by another doggedly powerful defensive effort from the Rocks. With Uni establishing a 14 – 5 lead after twenty five minutes of frantic play, the Latu injury caused a thirty three minute delay to proceedings as the big center was prepared for transport to Hospital by ambulance.

First points in the match came eight minutes in through Bulls Front Rower Casey Rameka who was on the end of several phases of pick and drive to score a converted try. Shortly after Shamocks scored through center Dale Sullivan who was on the spot to reclaim possession after a series of handling errors fell the Rocks way.

A sweeping fifty meter play involving some eight Bulls players produced the next try to Lachlan Conyers who streaked away after a pin point pass from Mason to score. Charles Curry added his second conversion for the day for Uni to lead 14 – 5 after twenty minutes. As part of the lead up to the try Melville suffered his ankle dislocation which caused the first of the delays for the match.

With some thirteen minutes to run to the break, Sam Latu set off on one of his trademark power runs only to be confronted by a strong front on tackle from Heath Mercer. The incident left Latu prone on the ground with a suspected broken leg which caused a lengthy delay to proceedings. On the resumption of play the Bulls set up camp in the Shamrocks half and launched raid after raid at the Rocks line but couldn’t breach the strong defensive line. With no points coming the Bulls ended the half with a 14 – 5 lead.

Early in the second stanza Uni Lock Will Wood produced an astonishing try down the western touchline. Wood took possession close to the halfway line and started a run beating several unusually feeble tackle attempts finding himself in the open. With Wood desperately looking for support that didn’t arrive, the big Lock made his ground to the line and scored in the corner leaving several defenders in his wake.

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The Rogues Rant

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

Season 2018 is shaping as one of the best in the history of Illawarra Rugby. The year started brilliantly with Country Championships coming our way in numbers. The year started with our Women taking out the Country Title at Campbelltown, followed by the men bringing home the Caldwell Cup with a dominant performance in Warren. The title’s kept coming with our Junior Illawarriors bringing home four more Country Championships. Add to this the fact that Illawarra supplied nine players to the Country Cockatoos program with Avondale’s big No.8 Tuumuliilevao Taiti-Taanoa taking out the Will Tanner Award for Country Player of the Year. Locally the Builders Club Premiership is proving to be one of the most closely contested for some time. The current table sees the same six sides placed one to six as they finished at the end of the rounds in 2017. With six rounds remaining six or seven sides are still in the running for the top four. Given the results we’ve seen so far this season any of the top six are capable of beating any of the others on any given day. It certainly looks like we are in for a very interesting six weeks and an even more interesting final series to finish a memorable year of Rugby. Bring it on!

It will be a big afternoon on Saturday at Ocean Park for one of Shamrocks favorite sons Jordan Whitehead. The very well respected Shamrocks champion will play his 400th grade game for the Rocks in second grade against University. Jordan started his years at the club in 1996 as a winger in the Under 13’s. He moved into grade in the year 2000 and made his first grade debut as a 20 year old in 2002. He won premierships in 2000 (U/19’s), 2001 (2nd Grade) and was a member of both successful 1st and 2nd Grade squads in 2007. With 194 First Grade games under his belt Jordan will lead the seconds out at 1.30 on Saturday for his 400th appearance for the great club. Get there early all you Rugby supporters on Saturday and give a true gentleman of the game the recognition he so much deserves. Well done and congratulations to Jordan on a wonderful achievement.

Last round for Super Rugby this weekend and there is still plenty of possibilities for the upcoming finals. However if things go the way I’m tipping then things should finish as they currently stand. Depending on how the Waratahs go against the Brumbies and the Lions go against the Bulls will decide who gets the all-important overall second ranking for the finals and the possible home semi-final that goes with it. The Rebels can join the Waratahs in the play offs but are up against the Highlanders across the ditch. A loss to the Highlanders will have the Rebels looking for a Jaguares win over the Sharks to hold onto eighth spot in the final rankings. I’m tipping that it will be four Kiwi teams, two Aussies, the Lions and the Jaguares in the final eight. My tips this week: Hurricanes, Reds, Highlanders, Crusaders, Waratahs, Lions, Sharks.

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Bowral Outsmart Premiers

MatchReportThe Bowral Blacks have closed the gap at the top of the IDRU Builders Club Premiership ladder with a clinical and disciplined 20 – 12 victory over Avondale at Eridge Park. With Vikings winning against University the Blueys and Blacks are now just four points adrift of the reigning Premiers after 12 Rounds. With today’s Round 11 match Results University retains fourth, while Shamrocks leapfrog Shoalhaven into equal fifth spot six points back.

At Eridge Park, Bowral played a strong tactical game to blot out the Wombats attacking potential and after scoring the first three tries of the match, took a strong grip on the match when leading 20 – 0 shortly after the break. The Blacks denied Avondale any chance of producing their best attacking game by employing a very effective fast moving compressed line of defense stifling the Wombats usual free flowing style of play.

Bowral got away to the perfect start scoring their first try after less than one minute of play. From a Bowral kick off Wombat Fly-Half Silipa Tuigamala immediately returned the ball up field using the strong tail wind. Blacks Fullback Ryan Hutchings-Knight fielded the ball on halfway and ripped through the Wombat defenders in a forty meter run setting up No. 8 Tim Lewis for the try in the left corner for an early 5 – 0 lead.

In a gripping first forty minutes the Blacks defensive structure repelled all that the Wombats attack could throw at them. The Avondale scrum dominated at the set piece but the Bowral forwards competed strongly at the breakdown with No.8 Tim Lewis leading the way winning several turn overs. The contest in the backs was equally as absorbing with both center pairing competing strongly trying to get the better of their opponents throughout.

With seven minutes left to the break, Bowral Halfback and Captain Tim Small started a play from a scrum deep in his own half. Going to the blindside Small took the ball down the right and kicked ahead for his winger Thomas Mooney. The wingman got the perfect bounce some forty meters out from the Wombat line and took on several defenders in a powerful run down the touch line to score his sides’ second try. Fly Half Lachlan Huntington couldn’t convert the try into the wind but added a penalty goal three minutes later and Bowral took a 13 – 0 lead to the interval.

Bowral had another dream start to the second stanza when Mooney got his second five pointer ten minutes in. Huntington created the play with a quick dart at the Wombat defensive line drawing plenty of attention before producing a sweet pass to Mooney who once again powered away in a forty meter run to the line. Huntington converted and Bowral were out to a strong 20 – 0 lead.

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The Rogues Rant

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

Illawarra Rugby’s very successful year in Country Rugby continues with the awarding of the Will Tanner Award for Country Player of the Year going to Avondale No. 8 Tuumuliilevao Taiti-Taanoa. Tuu’s award was presented after the Cockatoos narrow loss to Qld Country in Gooniwindi last weekend. His form for the Wombats, the Illawarriors and now the Cockatoos has been outstanding with the big fella thoroughly deserving this prestigious honor. Tuu joins fellow Illawarriors Paul Tuala and Gavin Holder as recent recipients of the highest honor in NSW Country Rugby. Well done big fella!2018 25 Will Tanner Award Tuu uliilevao Taiti Taanoa

The IDRU Judiciary was required to deal with the aftermath of a very nasty incident from a couple of weeks ago at Campbelltown Showground. A player was suspended this week for 15 years after a Touch Judge was struck during the second grade match between Campbelltown and Vikings. To their credit the Quinnies acted swiftly expelling the troublemakers from the club and it’s hoped that the ARU Administrative systems are such that these people never find their way onto a Rugby Ground ever again.

University coach Dion Miller was very happy with his young players after last week’s win over Shoalhaven. Playing with five players away at Cockatoos duties, the club had to depend on many young inexperienced players for this big assignment against an in form Shoalhaven side. Coach Miller commented after the match, “It was a great game from our team of young guys who have been working hard to get into first grade and they got their chance here. Just awesome to see young fellas step up and be proud of their achievements and to know that if they work hard their chance will come.”  Did I detect a little tear in the eye of the coach there?

Two weeks left before the Super Rugby finals with the final makeup of the play offs still to be finalized. As things stand at the moment the Kiwis will dominate the standings with four New Zealand sides sitting in the mix but the last two rounds will very much impact on who will make the final places for 2018. The Waratahs sit on top of the Aussie pool and should stay there and qualify with a home game in Round 1 of the play offs. Depending on this week’s matches however it could come down to their last round match against the Brumbies before the spot is decided. The Rebels are currently clinging to the last spot in the play offs. It all makes for an Interesting couple of weeks to come. My tips for this week: Crusaders, Rebels, Chiefs, Hurricanes, Waratahs, Bulls and Stormers.

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Dogged Rocks Keep Finals Hopes Alive

MatchReportShamrocks have kept their slim finals chances alive with a gutsy 13 – 12 win over second placed Bowral at Ocean Park. In front of a small but appreciative crowd, the Rocks bravely prevailed but still trail sixth placed Shoalhaven by six points, and remain ten points out of the top four. Shamrocks have it all to do to make the finals but if they can maintain the sort of spirit and determination they showed today finals football is still a possibility for the 2016 Grand Finalists.

In an entertaining and absorbing contest Bowral scored two tries to one but with normally reliable goal kicker Lachlan Huntington finding the conditions at the coastal venue difficult to master the Blacks fell agonizingly short and will now drop down one place to third on the table. Vikings had a bonus point win over Camden and join Bowral on 41 points but with one extra win than the Blacks, the Blueys now take second spot.

Shamrocks Fly-Half Ryan Schoupp was the hero for the home side kicking two difficult first-half penalty goals, one from fifty out, to give the Rocks a 6 – 0 advantage at the break. In the difficult conditions both kickers missed three shots at goal with Schoupp slotting three from six while Huntington could only manage one from four.

Despite no tries being scored in the first forty, the match had plenty to keep the spectators attention. The Blacks set about playing the same expansive game that they have shown in previous weeks but the Shamrocks forwards led by No.8 Iszak Lunney, produced a dogged defensive effort that has been their trade mark in recent years. Despite scoring twice in the second term Bowral struggled to find the attacking freedom they have enjoyed in recent matches due to the Rocks enthusiasm.

Bowral were forced to play one player short in the first half when giant center Christian Vainerere was binned for using his feet in an unacceptable manner twenty minutes into the match. The Rocks back row of Lunney, Flanker Gareth Thomas, and Locks Damien Clark and Heath Mercer terrorized the Bowral attack never allowing the slick Bowral attacking style to eventuate throughout the match.

Things started positively for the Blacks after the half-time break with wingman Thomas Mooney finding himself on the end of an overlap. The big man raced forty meters down the western touchline to open the Blacks account but with Huntington missing the conversion the Blacks trailed by 6 – 5 with forty four minutes gone.

The Blacks continued with some strong play and looked to be finding their attacking form. However with a string of penalties going the Rocks way and with the tenacious Shamrocks defensive effort continuing the next points came to the Rocks through halfback Rory Davis. The Rocks produced several phases of play in the Blacks quarter before Davis darted through half a gap to post their only try of the match. With Schoupp converting they were out to a 13 – 5 lead at the fifty ninth minute.

Representative winger Henry Yuill came into the match shortly after the Rocks try. Yuill hadn’t started the match due to a minor leg injury and immediately injected himself into the match. Yuill found space in mid field after taking a pin point pass from Huntington and crossed for Bowral beside the posts. Huntington converted and it was very much game on with the Rocks leading 13 – 12 with less than twenty to go.

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The Rogues Rant

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

I can’t help but to feel for the Wallabies in their loss last week against Ireland. Having said that, it’s hard to argue that the Irish were not the better of the two sides over the whole series and deserved to take the cup home. The sin binning and subsequent suspension of Israel Folau though was ridiculous. The only reason Irishman O’Mahony was in any danger was because his own player who lifted him failed to give him any protection on the way down. This was a perfect example why the practice of lifting players in general play should be outlawed. It’s a practice fraught with danger and it’s only a matter of time before someone gets seriously hurt. The IRB should outlaw lifting in general play now before it’s too late.

Three rounds to go in Super Rugby with the Waratahs clinging to the lead in the Aussie conference by one point over the Rebels. Friday night’s match in Melbourne will go a long way to deciding who will finish on top of the Aussie table and take their place in the finals. The Waratahs have the best run of the two into the finals with matches against the Sunwolves and the Brumbies to follow. The Rebels can’t afford to lose this week’s match with games against the Reds and then the Highlanders away in the last round to come. Depending on results over the next three weeks it could come right down to the last round match between the Waratahs and the Brumbies to decide who goes through. I don’t think that will happen though. I’m tipping a Tahs win in Melbourne this week to make life that much harder for the Rebels to make it through. My tips for this round are: Blues, Waratahs, Highlanders, Hurricanes, Bulls, Lions, and Jaguares.

There’s a couple of very interesting matches locally this week. Clubs will be without their Country reps again for Saturday with the Cockatoos up against arch rivals the Qld Country Blue Heelers up in Goondiwindi. Avondale are clear at the top of the table by four points but there is only six points between second placed Bowral and fifth placed Shoalhaven. Shamrocks on twenty six points are now in a must win situation if they are stay in touch with the top five sides. This week’s matches could create considerable change in the top six positions, a situation that given the competitive nature of this year’s comp we could see happen on a weekly basis from here on in. Avondale are at home in what is a first against last scenario. Avondale to win. Camden and Vikings meet at Camden Rugby Park which should see Vikings retain a top three spot. Vikings to win. Tech Waratahs will be looking to get back to a winning formula this week against Kiama at Kiama Showground. I think they can get that winning feeling back here. Tech Waratahs to win. University will be heavily affected by the Cockatoo match for their home match with Shoalhaven. A loss for the students will see them drop out of the top four. A win for Shoalies will see them re-enter the top group. I think that’s how it will go. Shoalhaven to win. Match of the Round this week is at Ocean Park with Shamrocks hosting Bowral. Shamrocks had a strong win last week over Tech Tahs despite being a little depleted and have shown that they should not be discounted just yet from making the finals. The Rocks will be a real test for Bowral but I don’t think they can get the points here against a very much in form Blacks side. Bowral 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.

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