The University of Queensland Red Heavies have today been crowned premiers in Queensland’s Premier Rugby competition following a thrilling 20-18 win over Sunnybank. In a match that showcased every aspect of Rugby, UQ ultimately managed to move past set piece deficiencies to steal the game from Sunnybank after they looked sure to close the game out.
UQ dominated early and showed their intention to move the ball around from the kick off. They were in turn rewarded with some field position, and a dinking kick in behind the ‘bank defense caused a fumble leading to a Harry Parker try, converted by Tom Pincus for 7-0.
Sunnybank responded immediately with a try to Shane Tasi after phase play pressure on the UQ line, to make it 7-7 inside ten minutes after Henry Taefu added the extras from in front.
From this point both sides struggled to gain momentum, with both sides guilty of getting a roll on toward the 22 only to be halted by sloppy handling or isolated ball carriers. The first half finished with Sunnybank taking the lead courtesy of a penalty just before time.
Half Time Score: Sunnybank 10 – UQ 7
The second half kicked off and it was UQ who troubled the scoreboard first with a penalty to level things up at 10 all. Sunnybank began applying pressure at the set piece and gained possession which spelt trouble for UQ.
After continuous pressure Tasi again crossed, this time in the corner to make it 15 – 10 to Sunnybank, and their delighted fans started to sense a victory. Taefu just missed the conversion from the sideline. Things were looking ominous for UQ, who began to have a scrum meltdown and came close to conceding a penalty try at one stage, only being saved by a counter shove just as Sunnybank were cranking up the heat.
With fifteen minutes to go, UQ center Nicholas Malouf was yellow carded for being off his feet, killing Sunnybank’s momentum as they came close to scoring another try. Taefu didn’t miss from adjacent to the posts to make it 18 – 10 and Sunnybank’s game to lose.
The yellow card only motivated UQ however, and from the kick off Harry Parker made a line break off a quality inside ball from James Dalgleish to put Uni on the front foot. After a few phases right on the try line replacement Mathew Arvier scored right next to the posts, and following Pincus’ conversion it was 18 – 17 still in favour of Sunnybank, setting up a grandstand finish.
Sunnybank earned a penalty with just a mere two minutes on the clock and had the chance to close out the game, however Taefu’s attempt again fell agonizingly wide, giving UQ one more chance. Sunnybank kicked away possession and Tom Pincus went on a barnstorming run straight up the field after the defense drifted too far. Several phases later Sunnybank were penalised (beaten by the ruck) 40 meters out.
Pincus stepped up to the mark and nailed it to the delight of the Heavies fans on the hill, leaving the full time score at UQ 20 Sunnybank 18.
Man of the match
It’s hard to look past Pincus who had a ripper of a game with the boot and ball in hand. Honorable mention to Harry Parker who looked and played like a younger version of the honey badger, as well as Shane Tasi who had a thundering game.
How good is amateur Rugby?
From my perspective I enjoyed that a lot more than Bledisloe I. Sitting on the Hill in between the ‘Bank and Heavies fans was a time warp to something I haven’t really experienced in Rugby, being born at the same time as professionalism. In my view, Rugby needs the spirit, character and colour of places like Ballymore and the hill back.
There was singing, yelling, chat going back and forth, and I thought the game itself, attended by 5,000 odd fans, actually had more atmosphere than I’ve seen at some Reds games with 30,000. Both sets of fans knew exactly when to cheer or jeer and both had some great tunes to sing along to. (My personal favourite from Sunnybank – “da da da da, I’ve seen straighter twisties” during UQ lineouts).
Tickets were 15 dollars – I would have liked to see them cheaper but no real complaints. If the QRU put beer on the cheap and worked with engaging all of the clubs for the Brisbane NRC team, the Ballymore halcyon days could return.
All in all, a cracking afternoon of footy. Congratulations to UQ and commiserations to Sunnybank.