Defending NSW Tertiary Cup premiers UTS Tigers proved too strong for Sydney University, running out 48-22 winners in their Round 12 rugby league clash at Blackmore Oval on Saturday.

The Tigers opened the scoring in the 3rd minute, when they finished off a clinical backline move to score wide out and convert the extras for a 6-0 lead and a warning of things to come for the Lions.

But the Tigers’ lead didn’t last long when the Lions levelled the scores four minutes later, after Morrison Mong intercepted a pass and raced away 60m only to be pulled down just short of the goal line. From the next play Jake Vrahnos’s clever inside ball found a flying Jay Parker, whose great running line saw him score under the posts.

Despite that effort, errors started to creep into the Lions game with dropped ball and missed tackles at crucial moments allowing the Tigers big forwards to build pressure. And they took full advantage by scoring three tries in 10 minutes take their lead to 24-6.

The Lions worked hard to get back into the contest with workaholic forward Ryan Barton, who was impressive all game in attack and defence, along with Vrahnos and Joe Andrews leading the way. The hard work paid off in the 29th minute when Andrews scored a great try from a sweeping backline move off a scrum. Steve Tziotis converted to reduce the deficit to 24-12.

Aggressive defending by the Lions forwards forced the Tigers into errors and the momentum started to shift.  And five minutes from the break a clever decoy play by Sione Fifita drew the Tigers outside backs in, allowing David Turner to provide a long, flat pass for Tziotis who streaked away only to pulled down 10m short of the try line. Mong’s clever kick in goal resulted in a line dropout and the Lions smelt blood and were determined to post points before the break.

The Lions continued to build pressure and rewarded with a brilliant try, with Mong’s pin-point kick over the defensive finding Parker, whose speed and elusive footwork enabled him to get around the defence for his second try. Andrews was unable to convert from the sideline and the combatants went to the sheds with and Tigers up 24-16.

The second half started with plenty of energy and enthusiasm from both teams.  Trading set for set, aggressive defending and some enterprising attacking play had the small crowd in full voice.

There were a number of courageous efforts in defence with Barton, Tom Williams and Adam Harber leading the way in the pack but the class of the Tigers proved too much and they slowly took control of the game and scoring two back-back converted tries to extend their lead to 36-16 with 12 minutes left on the clock.

The Lions scored in the 63rd minute when Krypton Tatupu barged over from close range for Andrews to convert, but the UTS Tigers had the last say, scoring a further two tries to seal a big win.

In Division 2, the Lions faced a Tigers outfit sitting in firstt place on the competition table.  With a re-vamped line-up and a renewed sense of optimism the Lions showed plenty of commitment in  attack and defence.

The Lions got off to a good start and were dominating in the early exchanges and surging runs from Kent Straker, Dean Reid and Kurt Lewis were a highlight as was the aggressive nature of Mathew Colgrave’s defensive display which was a constant menace for UTS Tigers.

The Lions were unlucky not to score on three separate occasions in the first half after some great attacking play but the last pass just didn’t hit the mark. 

Meanwhile, the Tigers were able to capitalise on the back of a high penalty count against the Lions and draw first blood in the 15th minute to lead 4-0.  The Lions hit back in the 18th minute when Colgrave forced a Tigers error with a strong one-on-one tackle, Kingi Ngatai picked up the ball and found Sione Fifita to streak away and score a try in the corner and level the scores.

With 30 seconds to the half-time break UTS Tigers attacked from deep in their half and look certain to take the lead but Nathan Rokoia’s determination to run across field and pull off an try- saving tackle was sensational and gave the Lions a strong sense belief going into the half time break at 4-4.

The second half unfolded with the teams sides trading tries and UTS holding a 10-8 lead. With 15 minutes left on the clock the Lions produced a magical play through the skill of Ngatai, who put a short grubber kick behind the defence. Rokoia brilliantly scooped up the ball one-handed, stepped around a defender and off-loaded to Ngatai, who had backed up inside to score under the posts.  David Turner added the extras and the Lions were in front 14-10.

Some unforced errors and back-to-back penalties allowed the Tigers to mount pressure and hit back with a converted try to level the scores at 14-14 with three minutes left on the clock.

The Lions defended courageously, but UTS managed to kick a field goal in the last minute to take the lead 15-14. The Lions were clearly deflated and from the restart of play the Tigers scored a  length-of-the-field try to win the match 21-14.

Coach Tony Farr was happy with the overall effort and praised his team for their commitment. “The team has a long way to go to be a serious contenders but good signs are there,” he said. Farr made special mention of Mathew Colgrave for his sensational defensive work.

Round 13 of the NSW Tertiary Cup competition, on August 1, will see Sydney University Lions take on Cumberland Beavers at Henson Park, with First Division kicking off at 1pm and Second Division starting at 11.15am.


NSW Tertiary Cup competition – Round 12

Division 1: Sydney University 22 (Jay Parker 2, Joe Andrews, Krypton Tatupu tries; Andrews 2 goals, Steve Tziotis goal) defeated by UTS Tigers 48.

Division 1 Kobe Jones Man of the Match was Ryan Barton

Division 2: Sydney University 14 (Kingi Ngatai, Sione Fifta tries; David Turner goal) defeated by UTS Tigers 21.

Division 2 Kobe Jones Man of the Match was Mathew Colgrave