Sydney University Lions won their 12th NSW championship and 8th straight Waratah Bowl with a commanding 37-0 victory over the UTS Gators on Saturday night.
The Lions were on top from the start, taking their opening possession the length of the field for an early touchdown and a 7-0 lead. The Lions’ established control with their ground game, Runningback Liam Erby taking the ball in for the score from 7 yards out on his way to 119 yards for the game.
The Lions defence played strongly all game, but some costly penalties initially kept UTS in the hunt. In the second quarter, the Gators drove down to the 9 yard line and threatened to score but the Lions defence held firm, Linebacker Joe Lim tackling the UTS runner short of the goal line on a fourth down play.
The defence then set up the next Lions’ score, Safety Ben Barnes snaring an interception and returning the ball to mid-field. From there the Lions needed only two plays to score, Quarterback Kiernan Dorney passing to Receiver Kyle Kazarian for 24 yards and then finding Receiver Mark Biedenkapp deep for a 38 yard touchdown and a 14-0 lead.
With little time left in the first half, the UTS Gators completed a long pass to get down close to the endzone, but in another key goal line stand, the Lions defence held the Gators out to go into the locker room with their 14-0 lead intact.
The Lions looked to extend their lead early in the second half but fumbled the ball after driving to within 10 yards of the endzone. But the defence turned that mishap into points, Outside Linebacker Chris Noble scoring a safety by tackling the UTS quarterback in the endzone on the next series to earn 2 more points and push the lead out to 16-0.
From the ensuing kick, the Lions rammed home their advantage. Quarterback Kiernan Dorney picked the right time to look deep and found Receiver Tristan Cauhepe with a great pass for a 23 yard touchdown. The score was now out to 23-0 and there was little chance of the Lions letting the game slip from there.
The Lions defence played with enthusiasm and pride all game, recording eight sacks of the UTS quarterback and allowing only 3 completions of 21 pass attempts, while picking off two interceptions. The Gators did not threaten to score for the remainder of the game and the shutout was well deserved by the Lions defence.
Meanwhile, the Lions offence continued to roll, posting two further touchdowns on another Dorney to Cauhepe connection – this time for 34 yards – and a 4 yard run by Liam Erby. In the end, the Lions won by 37-0 – a record winning margin for the Waratah Bowl.
The result was a just reward for a team which had gone undefeated in the regular season and set a new league record in scoring an average of 58 points per game. Indeed, the Lions are now on a 56-game winning streak and, over their eight-year championship reign, have an incredible record of 96 wins and only two losses.
The Lions also swept the pool in the Gridiron NSW awards announced after the Waratah Bowl. Head Coach Stephen Dunne was announced as Coach of the Year, while the Lions won the Team of the Year award. All the individual honours also went to Lions’ players, with Joe Lim being announced as the GNSW Defensive MVP and Liam Erby winning the Offensive and League MVP awards. Finally, in a most unusual but deserving result, the five man offensive line, consisting of David Thode, Cameron Lawrence, James Gifford, Aaron Carbury and David Allen received the award for the 2010 Waratah Bowl Most Valuable Player. In a way, the presentation of this individual award to a team unit served to underline just how much the success of the Lions has been based on its team spirit and team play rather than merely on individual performances. Long may it continue!
For more information on the 2010 Waratah Bowl, including video highlights and photos, check them out at: www.sydneyunigridiron.com