Avondale Escape With Late Draw At Vikings

In a bruising sometimes brutal IDRU Round sixteen match at Vikings Oval, Avondale have clung onto the competition lead after escaping with a late 15 all draw against a desperately unlucky Vikings side. After taking an early 5 – 0  lead Avondale succumbed to a determined Vikings outfit who dominated the match for the next seventy minutes going into the last six minutes of the match with a 15 – 5 lead. Battling to keep their season alive the Blueys seemed set to take the competition points until the Avondale attacking flair burst into action with six minutes left in the match.

Exciting young fullback Allan Tuigamala was the hero crossing for two tries in the last six minutes of the match. Allan’s older brother Fly-half Silipa had the opportunity to snatch victory but saw both his attempted conversions swing across the face of goal for the match to end in a draw. Both sides lost key players to injury during an intense first forty minutes which tested the resolve of both sides in a sign of what we can expect in what is sure to be a tightly contested final series coming up.  

With University and Shamrocks both registering bonus point victories, Vikings now slip to equal fourth spot with University. With one round left to play, Avondale maintain their lead over Bowral in the race for the Minor Premiership with the lead reduced to just three points.  Four Round 17 matches will have a bearing on the final standings before the final series begins in two weeks’ time. Avondale and Bowral will contest the Major Semi-Final but just who will qualify for the Minor Semi Final could even come down to the for and against differential after next weekend’s Round of matches.

Avondale had a dream start when front rower Vaigofa Leota scored inside the first minute. A Vikings player was ruled off side, falling on a loose ball after a teammate knocked-on from the kick-off. Avondale took the tap and quickly took play into the Vikings quarter for Leota to force his way over. With the try unconverted, Avondale led 5 – 0 after one minute.

Both sets of forwards launched into their task with gusto producing some of the most brutal exchanges seen this year. The contest between the two sets of Centers was a feature of the match with the Vikings pairing of Beau Midgley and Lulia Lulia just over shadowing the more fancied Wombat duo of Andre Itula and Nua Alone. It was the Blueys centers who combined to produce their first try. Lulia ran at a good angle off a Midgley pass to score after ten minutes play. With the try converted by Tom Sawden, Vikings were out to a lead of 7 – 5, which remained through to the half-time break.

The heavy play over the thirty minutes to the break took its toll with both sides losing players to injury. Vikings Cockatoo representative Lock Cody Roman left the field at the twenty three minute mark with an ankle injury, followed five minutes later by Avondale workaholic Lock Kyle Moody with a sternum injury. Five from the break Wombats Fullback Allan Tuigamala produced an opportunity down the left for wingman Jesse Leng. The speedy Leng set sail for the corner from fifty out only to be brought down by a scything cover tackle by Blueys half Sawden twenty out.  As halftime approached Vikings Flanker Dane Nethery also left the field after a head knock taking no further part in the match.

The intensity of the match continued into the second term with Vikings once again getting the better of play peppering the Wombat line. The Blueys were held up over the line after five minutes of the half before center Midgley produced a strong run from thirty out spinning out of several tackles to score. The unconverted try increased their lead to 12 – 5 after fifty five minutes.

Despite Vikings choosing not to take several penalty goal attempts to this point, Sawdon kicked a penalty goal at the sixty two minute mark for a 15 – 5 lead.

Desperate to secure the Minor Premiership title Avondale finally started to find their attacking flair in the face of some determined Vikings goal line defense. After being held up over the line with ten left on the clock, the Wombats produced a sweeping backline raid which found the freakishly talented Allan Tuigamala with the overlap, the fullback scoring in the right corner. Two minutes later Skipper Andre Ituala produced a break from deep inside his own half taking play into the Vikings half. He set the younger Tuigamala away again down the right. Tuigamala produced a scintillating run with a change of pace and pure speed to score again in the corner. Both conversion attempts from Silipa Tuigamala swung away as the scores were locked 15 – 15 with three minutes left.

Giant Wombat No.8 Tuu Taanoa, as he had done many times throughout the second half produced another barnstorming run in the dying seconds but with a pass going to ground, Referee Andrew Strode called an end to a gripping match with the score board locked at 15 all.

Vikings Center Beau Midgley took maximum points in the IDRU Player of the Year Award taking full advantage of the strong work of his forwards headed by Jack Hobbs, Joel Diggins, Nick Mastro and No.8 Mathew Handcock. Center Lulia Lulia who has missed a large part of 2019 through injury showed his undoubted class throughout with Halfback Sawden and Fly-Half Luke Raduva producing strong games both in attack and defense.

Wombat coach Joe Aiono was disappointed with his side’s performance suggesting it was their ugliest performance of the year. His side showed a level of composure late in the match to almost get away with a late win, an aspect not present in their game in previous campaigns. Vikings managed to put their opponents off their game but any side with a player of the ability of Andre Itula cannot be underestimated. It was Itula who stood up in the dying stages of the match to create chances for his side to take advantage of. Big No.8 Tuu Tannoa made a considerable impact late in the match trying to lift his side’s effort. Anthony Amone up front after a slow start also made a late impact with the freakish Allan Tuigamala impressive throughout.

Vikings 15 (Lulia Lulia 1 try, Beau Midgley 1 try, Tom Sawden 1 goal, 1 penalty goal)

Drew With Avondale 15 (Allan Tuigamala 2 tries, Vaigafa Leota 1 try)

Other Match Results

Shamrocks 52 Def Camden 21

Bowral 26 Def Shoalhaven 24

Tech Waratahs 27 Def Kiama 5

University 56 Def Campbelltown 12