University of Canberra prevailed over a wounded Sydney University side by 33-26 in Round 14 of the NSW Tertiary Cup Rugby League clash at The Meadows on Saturday, August 8.
The Lions travelled to Canberra to take on the Grizzlies and after a disrupted game day preparation which left the team short on the bench, the Lions started the game brightly and were dominating the early exchanges.
Second phase play brought the Lions undone in the 7th minute, a set of offloads ending with the Grizzlies shifting to the right for a touch-down in the corner and adding the extras to take an early 6-0 lead.
The Lions weren’t to be held down though and in the 10th minute some clever dummy-half play by Kingston Nicholson skirting wide of the ruck found strong second rower William Grooms running a great line to cut through the defence but was brought down 15m short of the goal line. Jake Vrahnos took control of the next play and put in a pinpoint cross-field kick to find Caine Trindall leaping high above his opposite number to bat the ball back to center Jay Parker to score in the corner and take the scoreline to 6-4.
The Lions were settling into their work with some set pieces the team had trained for during the week and aggressive defending led by forwards Dillion Johnson, Adam Harber, Scott Bunch and William Grooms. Attacking combinations on the right edge between Joe Andrews, Terrence Remeka and Adam Hansen were also a feature.
Halves David Turner and Vrahnos were instrumental in the setting up Parker’s second try with a well worked backline move. Vrahnos handling the ball twice before putting a rampaging Grooms through a hole and offloaded to a flying Parker who cut inside and raced 50 meters to score under the sticks, Nathan Rokoia converted the try and the Lions took the lead 10-6.
Five minutes later the Lions were hungry for more points and Parker wouldn’t be denied a hat-trick when Nicholson put a grubber kick behind the defensive line for Parker to pounce and extend the lead to 14-6.
On the back of three consecutive penalties the home side marched themselves into great attacking positions and took full advantage to score and reduce the deficit to 14-10. The Grizzlies made it back-to-back tries on the stroke of halftime to lead 16-14 at the break.
A slow start to the second half with some unforced errors saw the Lions concede three tries and a field goal in 15 minutes to trail 33-14. The Grizzlies were in full control and determined to reverse the result from their previous two loses to the Lions. With a season ending wrist injury to prolific try scorer Jay Parker and Vrahnos not returning to the field in the second half due to a shoulder injury the come-back seemed impossible.
However, the Lions showed plenty of character and determination to hang in and work for each with several players playing through injury in particular Scott Bunch, Morrison Mong, Dillion Johnson & Daniel Harrison who showed the true courage of a lion to finish the game. Coach Nathan Hogan had to reshuffle his side and had players playing out of position but that didn’t stop the Lions from wanting to finish the game on a high.
The fight back was lead through the great efforts of Caine Trindall, Joe Andrews and William Grooms who never stopped trying and was the Lions best. The Lions were rewarded with two late tries. Hansen swooped on a loose ball and raced 70 meters to score and moments later Andrews showed his class when he scored a great individual try turning defenders inside out and swerving around two players to score close to the post and convert his try.
Coach Hogan praised his team for their performance considering the late disruption and injury toll. He said, “with only 2 weeks left until the finals and a tough game next week against the Polecats, we need to work hard at training to ensure we are ready to be in the best position to take out the premierships in both grades”.
We would like to wish all players who were injured on the weekend a speedy recovery. Especially Jay Parker, who will undergo surgery this week.
William Grooms picked up the Kobe Jones man-of-the-match award.
Round 15 of the Tertiary Cup competition, on August 15, will see Sydney University Lions take on Norwest Polecats at Kellyville Park, with Division 1 kicking off at 3pm and Division 2 starting at 1.15pm.
NSW Tertiary Cup competition – Round 14
Division 1: Sydney University 26 (Jay Parker 3, Joe Andrews, Adam Hansen tries; Joe Andrews 2, Nathan Rokoia goals) defeated by University of Canberra 33.
Division 2: Bye