In a remarkable game of Rugby, the University Bulls came from a half-time deficit of twelve points to hold on for a 24 – 22 win over Camden at University Oval. Camden put together a well-structured and executed first forty minutes, going to the break leading 22 – 10. The second half was a different story with the Rams losing their structure and eventually their composure as the Bulls, brilliantly led by Flanker Takunda Chimwaza, clawed their way back into the match to take the four competition points.
Chimwaza was in everything, scoring a try, and being a constant threat in attack around the rucks. He was very busy and punishing in defense, and toiled brilliantly at the breakdown winning several key turnovers. Uni fullback Charles Curry potted four goals from four attempts which ultimately made the difference as the Rams crossed for four tries, one more than the Students but could only manage one goal. Rams Fly-Half Michael Midson had the opportunity to snatch victory with less than a minute to go but his attempt at penalty goal from thirty meters out missed the mark.
The Rams first forty minutes was as good as anything they have produced in their three wins so far this year. In a worrying second term however they lost all their structure as the dogged Bulls worked their way into the contest and pressured the visitors into error to register the most unlikely win.
Camden flew out of the blocks early gaining early possession and maintaining it for much of the first ten minutes of the match crossing for two tries. The first came to half-back Terry Fanolua who took full advantage of his forwards hard work, dummying his way over out wide on the left after four minutes. From a scrum in their own half on the left the Rams backs swept into action and with Fly-Half Midson prominent, fullback Dane Kelly finished the raid off with a slick try in the right corner for a 10 – 0 lead after ten minutes.
Uni lost winger Dan Lambart to the bin for a breach in the lead up to the Kelly try, but it was the Bulls who put on points during the suspension. On the back of some typical University tradesmen like forward play skipper William Wood forced his way over to score from close range putting the Students back in the match at 10 – 7 after nineteen minutes.
The last ten minutes of the half was quite frantic but it was the Rams that added to their score despite spoiling a couple of scoring opportunities along the way. Lock Sean O’Flynn got a rare five pointer after some scrappy play, finding himself in space with very few defenders around him. The Bull’s Charles Curry added a Penalty Goal to his earlier conversion as the Rams came within five at 15 – 10 as half-time approached. Another sweeping backline play by Camden left speedster Afele Papalii with some work to do but with a strong turn of pace Papalii scored in the corner. Michael Midson converted the try for the Rams to lead 22 – 10 at the interval.
University put on two tries in the first fifteen minutes after the break as they lifted the tempo and with Chimwazwa, No. 8 Wayne Ngatai and prop Casey Rameka leading strongly from the front the students rattled Camden as the Rams lost all shape and struggled to stay with the Bulls. Chimwaza scored after two minutes of the half from an attacking lineout and rolling maul from close range. Ngatai added a try from another rolling maul, a play that the Bulls use to great affect scoring many points from the ploy. Charles Curry’s two conversions now had the students in front at 24 – 22 but still with twenty five left on the clock.
Camden’s structured efficient attack deserted them in the second half as the Uni forwards took control of the rucks and mauls with Chimwaza pilfering possession on several occasions. Uni dominated play never allowing the Rams any latitude slowly grinding the enthusiasm out of their opponents. Camden Lock James Wolgers added to Camden’s woes when he was adjudged to have made a tackle without using his arms and left for the bin with just over ten left on the clock.
With less than a minute to go a penalty came the Rams way in front of the posts and no more thirty meters out. Michael Midson stepped up to attempt a penalty goal but his kick went astray and the Students held on for a gutsy well deserved win.
The Rams have now fallen to the top two sides in the comp over their last two outings, but showed again that they have what it takes to be more than competitive in this competition. They were well served today in the forwards by Locks James Wolgers, and Sean O’Flynn, with Flanker Jarrod Crick busy. Fly-Half Midson and Halfback Fanolua tried hard and Fullback Kelly played well in the open but had an unfortunate off day with his goal kicking. The narrow two point loss and four tries meant that the Rams didn’t go home empty handed earning two Bonus Points for the match.
Takunda Chimwaza was simply outstanding in every aspect of the game. Wayne Ngatai and Casey Rameka continue to lead from the front inspiring strong performances from William Wood and Jarrod Conyers in tight. The experience and leadership of Donovan Nepia playing at Fly-Half today was once again instrumental in Uni’s success, with the return of George Rixon in the centers adding spark to the Uni backline.
University 24 (William Wood 1 try, Takunda Chimwaza 1 try, Wayne Ngatai 1 try, Charles Curry 3 goals, 1 penalty goal)
Def Camden 22 (Terry Fanolua 1 try, Dane Kelly 1 try, Sean O’Flynn 1 try, Afele Papalii 1 try, Michael Midson 1 goal)