The Sydney Uni Gridiron Lions passed a critical test when they beat their long time rivals UTS 33-6 last Saturday at St. George Hockey Centre. Not only have the Lions never lost to UTS, but they now have beaten every opponent in the Gridiron NSW competition this year.
Perhaps most importantly however, the game brought a level of competition to the Lions’ game plan that was much needed in their pursuit of a seventh consecutive NSW title.
The first half proved to be a battle of nerves. The Lions scored first after capitalizing on great defensive field position. Running-back Liam Erby ran in for a touchdown from 2 yards out. The Gators rebounded however, returning the ensuing kickoff deep into Lions territory.
They scored from 14 yards out to level the game. The Gators almost put the Lions behind for the first time this year with a 33 yard field goal attempt shortly after, but fortunately the kick fell short. Led by fierce performances from Ian Triganza and big man Fady Aoun, the Lions defense tightened their grip and started putting the Gators under serious pressure.
One of the most pivotal moments of the game came when defensive-back Suren Wickramasinghe intercepted a long pass from the UTS quarterback on third down near the Lions own end-zone. The play took away the ball and the Gators’ spirit, as they did not score again the whole day.
In the second half the Lions found their running game, churning out yards between Matt Croasdaile and Liam Erby – who had 3 touchdowns on the day. Outstanding offensive performances were given by wide receiver Kiernan Dorney – who caught a long pass for a score in the corner of the end zone, and tight-end Mac Shine – whose crucial blocks allowed others to get open, as well as hauling in a vital catch on a third-down situation to set up a score. On Defense the Aoun brothers – Fady and Chady – wreaked havoc in the interior line by tackling the ball carrier for a loss on several occasions.
Although the Lions have a bye this coming weekend, they will look to sharpen their areas of improvement in training. Coach Dunne has stressed on the team the importance of working harder each week in order to remain at the top of their game and not “to beat themselves.” Their next match is against the West Sydney Pirates on 7 November at 4PM, St. George Hockey Centre.
For more information and a full match report please see http://www.sydneyunigridiron.com/