Tertiary Students Rugby League Division 2 Grand Final | TAFE NSW Polecats v UTS Tigers
The UTS Tigers secured their first Second Division title since 2012 after they defeated the TAFE NSW Polecats 28-22 in the grand final of the Tertiary Student Rugby League competition.
In a physical game, the Polecats tried desperately to level the scores but it was the Tigers that held on to win the decider.
On the back of two penalties, the Polecats were able to get into good field position to get the scoreboard ticking after four minutes of play when Jamie O’Leary crashed over wide out. Ryan Bowen added the sideline conversion.
The Tigers replied with try to hooker Thomas Sarangaya after he crossed from dummy-half in the 13th minute. Soon after, he created the break that led to Daniel Tara scoring. Both tries were converted by Lee Johnston to put UTS ahead 12-6.
Johnston then kept the ball alive close to the opposition line, getting an impossible off-load away that ended up with winger Leon Sales scoring.
Just before the break, Polecats forward Joe Ngawini barged over to score next to posts. Bowen’s conversion saw the Tigers clinging to a 16-12 lead.
UTS began the second half in positive fashion with Kye McBride scoring to make it an eight-point advantage. Polecats halfback Brendon Webb then showed some great speed to race down the sideline to score in the 43rd minute. But the eight-point advantage returned minutes later when full-back Clayton Byrne scored for the Tigers.
In a see-sawing affair, the Polecats were next to score with full-back Raphael Williams-Joseph diving over in the corner to make it 26-22 with 18 minutes remaining. The great defence from both sides was illustrated in the 62nd minute when Johnston elected to take a penalty goal from 32 metres out. The goal pushed the deficit out to a converted try.
Johnston led by example and he was a worthy winner as the man of the match while Michael Beggs was announced as the Best and Fairest for the season.
UTS Tigers 28 (C Byrne, L Sales, K McBride, D Taria, T Sarangaya tries; L Johnston 4 goals) def TAFE NSW Polecats 22 (R Williams-Joseph, B Webb, J O’Leary, J Ngawini tries; R Bowen 3 goals)
Tertiary Students Rugby League Division 1 Grand Final | TAFE NSW Polecats v UTS Tigers
The TAFE NSW Polecats secured their second premiership in three years after coming from behind to beat the UTS Tigers 24-16 at New Era Stadium.
Three tries in nine minutes from the Polecats saw them take the lead 18-16 with 15 minutes remaining that sent their supporters into hysteria.
Chad Doering, Richie Mante and Shane Rowe’s second try of the game saw the Polecats hit the front for the first time in the game.
They made sure of the win with just under three minutes remaining when Tim Curley scored.
Both sides dominated the competition in 2017 with for and against needed to split their position on the ladder.
In the major semi-final, UTS Tigers scraped home 38-32 against the Polecats after extra-time was required.
The UTS Tigers came out firing with Dwayne Peters racing into the gap to score after two minutes. Luke Johnston added the extras and then scored a four pointer himself to give his side a 10-0 advantage.
TAFE NSW Polecats lost their skipper Billy Butler to the sin bin in the 23rd minute and lack of discipline cost them plenty of penalties. But they managed to hold on and it was 12 against 12 when Peters was sin-binned for the Tigers.
It was a costly error as the Polecats marched downfield and were rewarded with a try to centre Shane Rowe scored in the 33rd minute. Shane Miller kicked the goal, leaving the half-time score at 10-6.
The Tigers extended their lead to 16-6 just four minutes into the second half when prop Junior Tuapo went over to score under the posts. The opportunity presented itself after a 40/20 kick.
The tide of penalties was turning with the Polecats getting their fair share and they made the Tigers pay.
TAFE NSW Polecats 24 (S Rowe 2, C Doering, R Mante, T Curley tries; S Miller 2 goals) def UTS Tigers 16 (D Peters, L Johnston, J Tuapo tries; L Johnston 2 goals)