Sydney Uni Lions welcomed the Sutherland Seahawks back to Waratah Bowl Division I gridiron on Saturday evening with a dominating defensive display to record a 63-0 shutout.
The Seahawks had 26 veterans and 17 players with a Colts Division championship on their roster, but found it hard going against the defending GNSW champions.
On defence, the Lions’ defensive line shut down the Seahawks’ rushing attack, with Martin Balada (nine tackles, three for loss and one sack), Batuhan Tuylu (six tackles, two for loss and three sacks) and Fady Aoun (four tackles, one for loss and one sack) leading the way and Alexander Hunt (one TFL and one sack), Joel Suttor and Supi Save making strong contributions.
At linebacker, Chenghao Cui (six tackles) and Steve Dabin (five tackles with three for loss) led the tackle count, while the young guns in the linebacking corps all recorded career firsts – Chris Tolson with his first sack, Greg Steele-Mills with his first tackle for loss and Mitchell Dicalfas with his first fumble recovery.
But the major damage was done in the secondary, with Nick Olive and Keenan Mackett both returning interceptions for touchdowns and the team setting a new club record with 18 passes defended. Cornerbacks Kevin Trinh, Suren Wickramasinghe, Chris Day, Tim Dooley and Tim Nguyen got their hands on passes all night, while safeties Mackett, Olive, Mitchell Henderson and Valerie Tizaniel were a constant menace in both coverage and run support.
All of this added up to a shutout for the Lions defence (while scoring two TDs of their own) as the Seahawks lost a total of 10 net yards on the ground (including sacks) and lost a total of 37 net yards through the air (including interception return yardage).
The Lions’ offence, meanwhile, kept the points ticking over, with quarterbacks Matt Hilley (14 of 20 for 173 yards with three TDs and one Int) and Steve Weingarten (11 of 16 for 106 yards with 0 TDs and 0 Ints) distributing the ball to receivers Conor Foley (six catches for 85 yards with one TD), Harry Granger (five catches for 67 yards and one TD), Sam Darcy (five catches for 61 yards and one TD) and Zac Smith-Bubbins (six catches for 30 yards).
Running backs Alex Watson, Charles Adams and Abdul Kadir got the yards needed on the ground, while the offensive line of Aaron Carbury, Alex Perdios, James Gifford, Victor Teixeria and Elliot Mills-Connolly did not give up a sack for the game.
The Lions now move on to face the unbeaten Northwestern Predators at Darling Street Park, Greystanes, on Saturday, September 24, with the kick-off at 6pm.