Historic and picturesque North Sydney Oval, home ground of the mighty North Sydney Bears played host to a tough clash between Sydney University Lions and Norwest Polecats in round 10 of the NSW Tertiary Rugby League match on Saturday.

With the Lions and Polecats coming off strong wins in both divisions last week, both sides were looking to consolidate their position on the table and move into outright second position with a win.

The Lions were primed for a big game and determined to take the two points after a hard-fought draw in Division One in their last encounter and a narrow loss in Division Two.

It was a good start to the match in Division 1, trading set for set with aggressive defending by both sides looking to force turnovers in good attacking positions.

The Lions opened the scoring in the 25th minute. It took a while, but sustained pressure brought reward when enforcer Dillion Johnson broke the defensive line and made a bustling run into the Polecats 20m zone. Adam Vrahnos produced a clever play to put hard-running second-rower Daniel Harrison into a gap to score close to the posts. Joe Andrews converted for a 6-0 lead.

But the Polecats levelled proceedings on the stroke of half-time and the team went to the break level at 6-6.

The second half started in the same fashion as the first with both sets of forwards ripping into each other wanting to establish a solid platform for their team to gain the ascendancy.

Some poor options and errors started to creep into the Lion’s game with drop ball at crucial moments and that allowed the Polecats to build pressure and they took full advantage by scoring three tries in 15 minutes to take their lead to 22-6.

The Lions worked hard to get back into the contest with some trademark runs by Junior Tuapo and Harrison and the momentum was starting to shift. With 10 minutes left on the clock there was a glimmer of hope when some great vision and skill from Jake Vrahnos found a rampaging Tuapo who crash over the line but was held up.

The Lions continued to build pressure on the Polecats and were rewarded with a brilliant try. The Vrahnos brothers were instrumental in setting up a backline attack to find a flying Daniel Lambert and with his speed and elusive footwork was able to get around his defender and score a great try in the corner. However, Norwest Polecats were too strong on the day and ran out winners 22-10.

Coach Steve Freeborn was happy with the overall effort and praised Tom Williams, Daniel Harrison and Greg Ale for their great games but wants his team to concentrate on improving support play ruck play, ball security and attacking sets in the opposition red zone.

In Second Division the Lions got off to a solid start and were dominating in the early exchanges with strong runs from Dean Reid, Kurt Lewis, Kent Straker and Rodney Plaza a highlight along with clever halves play from Kingi Ngatai and David Turner.

The Lions struck early when Ngatai drifted across field and found a hard-running Lewis who sliced through the defensive line to open the scoring in the 5th minute. Turner converted for 6-nil lead. The Lions were in again in the 12th minute when Reid crashed through to take the score to 10-0, but the Polecats hit back just before the break to reduce the lead to 10-6.

The second half started slowly for the Lions with some poor errors. The enthusiastic Polecats took full advantage to reel in the Lions and extend their lead to 28-10. Special mention must go to Dean Reid for his tremendous effort in both attack and defence and his whole-hearted performances during the entire match.

Dillion Johnson picked up the Kobe Jones man-of-the-match award in Division One, while Dean Reid collected the Division Two award.

Round 11, on July 11, will see Sydney University Lions take on University of Canberra Grizzlies at Henson Park, with First Division kicking off at 1pm while Second Division have the bye.


NSW Tertiary Cup competition – Round 10

Division 1: Norwest Polecats 22 d Sydney University 10 (Daniel Harrison, Daniel Lambert tries; Joe Andrews 1 goal).

Division 2: Norwest Polecats 28 d Sydney University 10 (Dean Reid, Kurt Lewis tries; David Turner 1 goal).