Wombats Power To Title Over Uni

2015 12 Grand Final Group ShotIn what will be ranked as one of the most entertaining Grand Finals in Illawarra Rugby history with a total of eleven tries scored, Avondale took the prize for 2015 with a 39 – 31 victory over a gallant University Bulls side. The IDRU Builders Club Premiership decider played on Saturday at WIN Stadium was played at a frenetic pace throughout the entire eighty minutes keeping a healthy crowd enthralled to the end.

Avondale, despite losing centre Nua Alone to the Sin Bin after four minutes for hair pulling, launched into their trademark attacking game racing to a 27 – 12 halftime lead before conceding the second half to a determined and fast finishing Bulls outfit. Scoring four second half tries to Wombats two, the Bulls fought to the very end but fell just short of the mark to defend their title.

Injuries to key players Chris Miller, Jason Hughes and Sam Latu didn’t help the University cause but nothing can be taken away from the new Premiers outstanding effort right across the park as all the Wombat players contributed to the teams winning performance.

A bone crushing tackle by Ryan Lonsdale left Miller with a shoulder problem shortly after the Bulls centre almost opened the scoring with a kick and chase effort with the ball just eluding the dynamic centre in the Wombat in goal. Pauro Collier opened the scoring for the Wombats with a penalty goal as Miller was being escorted from the arena.

Within ten minutes Avondale put on two tries to race to a 15 – 0 lead after twenty one minutes. Andre Itula scored the first when he retrieved a kick at the Uni line to score, followed by Nua Alone’s try when he dummied to pass twice leaving several defenders in his wake as he scored under the posts. Collier converted the Alone try for the fifteen point lead.

Uni struck back when their in-form halfback Alex Simms scored at the twenty seven minute mark after showing a clean pair of heals to score without a hand on him from close range. With the try converted by Allyd Owen the Bulls were on the board. But with both sides throwing everything into their attacking game the match continued at a frenetic pace with three more tries before the break.

Anthony Amone went within centre meters of scoring for the Wombats and from the ensuing play Eli Sinoti scored the first of his two tries on the end of a backline charge in the right corner. Then Flanker Elia Anuma scored for Avondale when he fielded an inch perfect thirty meter cross field kick from Joe Aiono to score and with Collier converting the Wombats were out by 27 – 7. The Bulls reduced the margin to fifteen at the break with a driving maul try to No, 8 Jason Hughes on the stroke of half-time.

2015 11 Grand Final Eli SinotiTwo minutes into the second term Sinoti got his second try under the posts for Collier to convert and Wombats had a commanding 34 – 12 lead and looked to be cruising to victory. The fierce forward exchanges took their toll as the match progressed with Uni captain and No.8 Jason Hughes leaving the field injured as the forwards ripped into each other, creating more opportunities for their attack. Avondale No. 8 Steven Fuka, who continued his power house form of the season lead the Wombat charge when at the sixty four minute mark he was pulled down agonisingly short of the line. In almost scoring, Fuka suffered a leg injury which forced him from the field. From the ensuing play Ryan Lonsdale scored on the end of a short backline play for the Wombats to go out to a commanding 39 – 12 lead.

In an amazing final fifteen minutes Uni put on three more tries, against a tiring and depleted Wombat defence. The first came as a penalty try as replacement winger Matt Lee crossed wide out into the Avondale in goal only to be taken in a high dangerous tackle by Wombat full-back Scott Morgan. The penalty try was converted by Alyd Owen from in front and Morgan was binned for the final minutes of the match.

With six minutes to go replacement Wombat Tuu Taiti-Taanoa, was also binned for a dangerous tackle and Avondale were down to thirteen players with Uni throwing everything at them. Matt Lee scooted away to score a smart wingers try with three left on the clock and with a minute to go replacement forward Ben Cheetham crossed for a try converted by Owen for the Bulls to get within eight of the lead. With Uni pressing the Wombat line in the dying stages time ran out for the Bulls and the much anticipated celebrations for the Wombats began.

It was a memorable Grand Final with players from both sides right across the field contributing to the spectacle. The effort of both sets of forwards was remarkable as they all put in a whole-hearted effort for their respective clubs throughout. Wombat centre Eli Sinoti took out the Geoff Shaw Medal for the Player of the Grand Final, though his sides No.8 Steven Fuka must have been very close behind in the voting as he put in yet another mountainous effort. Young front-rower Anthony Amone was awesome as he charged into his work for the day, with his veteran front row partner Roger Cairns strong in defence.

For University on the back of the form of their very consistent front row combination of Karl Smith, Hori Leef and Andy Papworth, it was their little men who deserve plenty of pundits for their performances today. Half-back Alex Simms was their best with diminutive flanker Charlie Freeman outstanding and Fly Half Leon Mason his usual masterful self.

Photos supplied by BalancedImageStudio Photography

Avondale 39 (Eli Sinoti 2 tries, Andre Itula 1 try, Nua Alone 1 try, Elia Anuma 1 try, Ryan Lonsdale 1 try, Pauro Collier 3 goals, 1 penalty goal)

University 31 (Alex Simms 1 try, Jason Hughes 1 try, Matt Lee 1 try, Ben Cheetham 1 try, 1 Penalty Try, Alyd Owen 3 goals)

Geoff Shaw Medal Winner – Eli Sinoti (Avondale)   

Lower Grade Results

2nd Grade Camden 20 def Avondale 15.

Player of the Grand Final – Joshua Tailby (Camden)

3rd Grade Vincentia 18 def Vikings 12

Player of the Grand Final – Tane Matson (Vincentia)

Colts University 31def Campbelltown 14

Player of the Grand Final – Nick Longhurst (University)

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