Dewar Shield

Dewar Shield: hard fought win for Unicorns

Dewar Shield: hard fought win for Unicorns

It was a good display of rugby at Romanis Reserve where the Unicorns had to fight until the last second to hold back a late attempt by Box Hill to steal the win..

The Match

It was the second game for the Melbourne Unicorns who enjoyed a comfortable 40-point win against Power House in the opening round of the 2016 Dewar Shield.  They carried their momentum through the Easter break against the Box Hill Broncos, who had a bye in Round One.

It was an entertaining match as both teams scored freely in the first half, but Box Hill slowed down after the break.  They conceded territory and possession to Melbourne, who took the lead but could not close the game out. This allowed the Broncos to mount a late attack which could have won them the game.

The Melbourne Unicorns had the only professional player on the field: Rebels and former Force scrumhalf Mick Snowden.  He played in a class of his own and his remarkable defensive workload in defence in the dying moments helped his team to seal the victory.

Snowden tackles Rokowaqa in the last minute of the game

Dewar Shield Melborune Unicorns Box Hill Broncos Mick Snowden

photo @22Metri

First Half

The game started in the best way possible for the home team as the Unicorns went over the chalk in rapid succession thanks to flyhalf  Paul McConnochie. First, he scored on the left after a nice team effort; then he breached the defensive line under the posts.

The second try was converted for an early 12-0 score.

McConnochie dives for Unicorns second try

Dewar Shield Melbourne Unicorns Box Hill Broncos try McConnochie

photo @22Metri

But the Broncos deserved credit for not losing their concentration being down, 12-nil so early in the game.  They regrouped quickly to get two tries back in  the first quarter hour of play.

Speedy winger Maciu Rokowaqa scored first for Box Hill, followed by open side flanker Jack Merrillees. Like the Unicorns, they missed one conversion to tie the score 12-all at 15 minutes.

The pyrotechnic first half of the game wasn’t over because Box Hill flyhalf, Alex Healey, put his team in the lead ten minutes later.  The visitors had other chances to increase the margin also and and looked in control.

Before the end of the half the Unicorns had a rare excursion into the Box Hill 22 and scored thanks to Snowden, but the last hurrah of the half belonged to the visiting Broncos again as their flyhalf, Jone Nagalu, showed his skills to cross the line in the last play.

Half-time score: Melbourne 17 – Box Hill 24

Jone Nagalu’s try
Dewar Shield Melbourne Unicorns Box Hill Broncos try Nagalu

photo @22Metri

Second Half

The Unicorns came back determined to win and put the Broncos under pressure from the very beginning of the period.

After several phases in the opponents 22 the Unicorns scored their fourth try with fullback Chris Ling out on the left corner. The conversion was again missed so the home team was still trailing by 2.

The Box Hill flair of the first half wasn’t there and their reaction was only limited to a couple of kick chases deep in the Unicorns half, albeit well-covered by the backs.

The higher workload of the Unicorns paid off at the the 16th minute when lock Shaun Mortensen, who dominated all the lineouts in the game, picked up another tough ball and crossed the line carried by his team mates.

Mortensen towering the lineout
photo @22Metri

photo @22Metri

The deserved lead didn’t stop the Unicorns’ attacks, but on multiple occasions the last pass wasn’t precise enough and the score was locked at 27-24.

Box Hill had a late resurgence and threw the proverbial kitchen sink at the Unicorns despite being one man down in the last minutes.

But it was time for Melbourne’s defence to shine and deliver the win. With the Broncos twice five meters from the try line the Unicorns held up gallantly and denied the visitors a last minute score.

Final score: Melbourne Unicorns 27 – Box Hill 24.

Unicorns defence denies a late try effort
Dewar Shield Melbourne Unicorns Box Hill Broncos

Photo @22Metri

Game Changer

Chris Ling’s try at the begin of the second half was instrumental for Melbourne, they came out firing the second half, and the fullback’s score turned the momentum into needed points.


Shaun Mortensen dominated the lineouts and was instrumental to deliver clear balls to Rebels’ Mick Snowden, which allowed the Unicorns to make the best use of the pro scrumhalf’s skills.

Rising Watch

Apart from our man of the match Shaun Mortensen, flyhalf Paul McConnochie deserves a mention for his work around the pitch, not only for his brace of tries that gave the Unicorns a kick start. Box Hill backrowers Jack Merrillees and Esala Waikila had a great game in a losing side.

The Details

Score & Scorers

Melbourne Unicorns 27 (17)
Tries: McConnochie 2’, 8’; Snowden 38’; Ling 48’; Mortensen 56′
Conv.: McConnochie1/5

Box Hill Broncos 24 (24):
Tries: Rokowaqa 12’; Merrillees 15’; Healey 25’; Nagalu 41′
Conv.: Vilitati 2/4

Cards & citings

YC  Broncos #23 68′

The Other Matches

In the other three games of the round reigning champions Harlequins scored another large victory downing the Rams by 30 points. Whilst Endeavour Hills and Power House scored their first win of the season beating Melbourne Uni and Southern Districts respectively.

Harlequins – Moorabbin 51 – 21

Melbourne University – Endeavour Hills 13 – 26

Southern Districts – Power House 12 – 37

Dewar Shield

Diego Ghirardi is a rugby fanatic from Italy, living in Los Angeles. Played on the wing, now mainly couch flanker or sideline halfback. Enjoys writing in broken English, which should be read in a Franco Cozzo accent to render it more original.

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