Students undefeated on Canadian tour

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The NSW Tertiary Student representative rugby league team, which included four Sydney University Lions players, finished their three match tour of British Columbia undefeated with a 38-4 win over British Columbia Bulldogs Under 23s on Friday night.

Sydney University Lions players Junior Taupo, Myles Fowler, Scott Bunch and Jake Vrahnos were members of the squad, coached by Dean Chapman, that left Sydney on Thursday, July 9 bound for Vancouver, Canada.

Taupo, Fowler, Bunch and Vrahnos were involved in each of the tour matches, either from the starting XIII or coming off the bench.

The NSWTSRL representative team opened their tour with a 24-10 win over a British Columbia Bulldogs Open Age representative team at Klahanie Park, North Vancouver, on July 12.

The Bulldogs showed from the opening whistle that they were not afraid to take it up to their more experienced rivals and it took the visitors 10 minutes before they were able to put points on the board.

After being held in their own territory for most of that time, a long break by fullback Luke Johnston resulted in prop Junior Tuapo barging over for the first points of the tour. Five-eighth Allan Newton converted for a 6-nil lead.

But hopes that the Bulldogs defence would start to crack quickly faded, with the host’s aggressive tackling forcing the Tertiary boys into error on too many occasions.

Another strong run from Tuapo just before the half-time set up half-backJohn Norford for a try near the posts and with the conversion unsuccessful, the visitors went to the break ahead 10-0.

The second half started well for the locals with fullback Nathaniel Silver slicing through the Tertiary Blues defence to run 70m to score. A successful conversion by half-back Conner Hunter put the Bulldogs well and truly in the hunt, trailing 10-6.

Tertiary prop Joe Mourad crashed over wide out in the 60th minute to put the visitors in front 14-6 and a second try to Norford, converted by centre Shane Rowe, 10 minutes from full-time, should have sealed the match.

However, a try to Bulldogs second-rower Hash Mirlohi with six minutes remaining gave the locals a glimmer of hope. But they were dashed when Tertiary second-rower Joe Ngawini forced his way over the line to seal the result and a solid start to the tour.

Seamus Leyland was named man of the match, while Luke Johnston was named players’ player.

Team list:

1. Luke Johnston (UTS)

2. Mitch Scott (UC)

3. Myles Fowler (SU)

4. Husam Asfour (UWS)

5. Jamie Holland (N/W)

6. Allan Newton (UTS)

7. John Norford (N/W)

8. Seamus Leyland (UC)

9. Ben Grifgin (UC)

10. Junior Tuapo (SU)

11. Joe Ngawini (N/W)

12. Kareem Emara (N/W)

13. Dayne Horne (UTS)

14. Jake Vrahnos (SU)

15. Shane Rowe (N/W)

16. Will Salvestrin (UC)

17. Scott Bunch (SU)

19. Luke Rye (N/W)

20. Joe Mourad (C/C)

NSWTSRL Representative Team 24 (John Norford 2, Junior Tuapo, Joe Mourad, Joe Ngawini tries, Allan Newton, Shane Rowe goals) d British Columbia Bulldogs Opens 10 (Nathaniel Silver, Hash Mirlohi tries, Conner Hunter goal).

Game 2

The second match of tour was played against local British Columbia competition team, Surrey Beavers, at South Surrey Athletic Park (located about one-hour’s drive east of Vancouver city) on Wednesday night, July 15.

The tourists ran out 58-8 winners with Sydney University’s Jake Vrahnos named man of the match.

Despite just missing out on a place in the 2015 British Columbia competition grand final, which the NSW players attended the night before their opening tour match, the Beavers had been the dominant team in the fledgling BC rugby league competition and were keen to pit their skills against the tourists.

As with their first tour match against the Bulldogs, the opening session produced some willing displays in defence and attack and it was the Beavers who made the first line break.

NSW showed they had learnt their lesson from their first match, completing all of their early sets and they reaped the benefit in the 7th minute when a sweeping backline play put winger Mitch Scott over wide out. He converted his own try for the tourists to take a 6-0 lead.

From the restart, the tourists continued to attack, resulting in Vrahnos putting his Sydney University team-mate Scott Bunch over under the posts. An easy Scott conversion extended the NSW lead to 12-0.

Minutes later a long, block-busting run from front-rower Junior Tuapo enabled Bunch to set up five-eighth Allan Newton for a try, with Scott again on target with the conversion.

Newton continued a dominant attacking display with a brilliant pass to put fullback Luke Johnston over for a simple try. Scott converted and with 20 minutes remaining before half-time the Tertiary team were about to clock up a cricket score.

But the proud Beavers had different ideas and worked their way back into the match, holding their own and making a couple of good breaks. Four minutes from half time their hard work paid dividends when winger Nathaniel Silva collected a bomb to score wide out.

But right on half time hooker Tim Curley sliced his way through the Beavers’ defence to put prop Seamus Leyland over and the tourists went to the break ahead 28-4.

The second half started well for the Beavers with fullback Nick Bartholme scoring off an early scrum win. However, their hopes of getting back into the match were dashed when centre Sam Asfour bamboozled the defence to cross for the first of his three tries.

A try to Tuapo quickly followed and unfortunately for the Beavers their defence faded and the tourists were able to run at will, with centre Shane Rowe adding another try and players’ player Asfour and Leyland each scoring twice in the closing stages.


Team list:

1. Luke Johnston (UTS)

2. Mitch Scott (UC)

3. Shane Rowe N/W)

4. Husam Asfour (UWS)

5. Jamie Holland (N/W)

6. Allan Newton (UTS)

7. Jake Vrahnos (SU)

8. Luke Rye (N/W)

9. Ben Griffin (UC)

10. Joe Mourad (CC)

11. Scott Bunch (SU)

12. Kareem Emara (N/W)

13. Will Salvestrin (UC)

15. Tim Curley (N/W)

16. Seamus Leyland (UC)

17. Dayne Horne (UTS)

18. Myles Fowler (SU)

19. Joe Ngawini (N/W)

20. Junior Tuapo (SU)

22. John Norford (N/W)

NSWTSRL Representative Team 58 (Husam Asfour 3, Seamus Leyland 2, Luke Johnston, Mitch Scott, Shane Rowe, Allan Newton, Scott Bunch, Junior Tuapo tries, Mitch Scott 6, Junior Tuapo goals) d Surrey Beavers 8 (Nathaniel Silva, Nick Bartholme tries)


Game 3

The NSWTSRL team returned to Klahanie Park, North Vancouver, for the final match of the tour, against the British Columbia Bulldogs Under 23 Representative Team, on Friday night, July 17.

While the tourists won the match 38-4, it was hard-fought win and the locals could have added plenty of points but for some inexperience in how to finish off their plays.

The NSW boys started the match strongly, eager to maintain an unbeaten tour record and it took only seven minutes to score first points, with half Jake Vrahnos sending a perfect face ball to prop Luke Rye to crash over near the posts. Centre Shane Rowe was successful with the conversion.

But the visitors’ 6-0 lead was soon cut back by the BC 23s when their fullback Nick Bartholme scored in the corner in the 13th minute.

The visitors were able to make the most of good possession and field position and with 18 minutes left in the half fullback Luke Johnston crossed after a zig-zagging run that left the BC defence bewildered. Soon after centre Shane Rowe received a perfectly-timed pass from interchange half John Norford to stroll over for a try near the posts. Interchange back Mitch Scott converted both to give the NSW Students an 18-4 lead.

Just to demonstrate their superiority, five minutes before the break Johnston dived on a Norford bomb for a try and with Rowe converting, the tourists led 24-4 at lemons.

A gutsy defensive effort from the young Bulldogs kept the scoreboard inactive for the first 20 minutes of the second half until a strong tackle from NSW winger Myles Fowler jolted the ball straight into the arms of Vrahnos, who scored wide out.

Fowler was in the action again soon after, dropping on a well-placed Vrahnos bomb to score his first try of the tour. Scott converted to give the tourists a 32-4 lead.

Four minutes from full time interchange hooker Ben Griffin scooted over from dummy half to score under the posts and with Scott converting, the tourists ran out 38-4 winners.

Seamus Leyland was named man of the match, while Luke Rye was named players’ player.


Team list:

1. Luke Johnston

2. Myles Fowler

3. Shane Rowe

4. Husam Asfour

5. Jamie Holland

6. Allan Newton

7. Jake Vrahnos

8. Seamus Leyland

9. Tim Curley

10. Luke Rye

11. Joe Ngawini

12. Scott Bunch

13. Dayne Horne

14. Ben Griffin

15. John Norford

16.Will Salvestrin

17. Travis Cuscuna

18. Mitch Scott

19. Junior Tuapo