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
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.
Lulia 1 try, Beau Midgley 1 try, Tom Sawden 1 goal, 1 penalty goal)
With Avondale 15 (Allan Tuigamala 2 tries, Vaigafa Leota 1
Other Match Results
Shamrocks 52 Def Camden 21
Bowral 26 Def Shoalhaven 24
Tech Waratahs 27 Def Kiama 5
University 56 Def