Blues Outlast Bulls, Emus Crush Red Men
Taroona Blues outlasted the Devonport Bulls by 20 points to 3 at Rugby Park on Saturday to secure second position on the state-wide ladder shaking off their previous loss and overcoming a flu virus that affected the attacking flair required to convert points from early possession.
Both sides applied aggressive defence but struggled for continuity from resulting turnovers. Taroona’s backs struggled to set angles against the tackling of Bulls lock Dean Wallace, Number 8 Marika Meo, centre Laau Leavasa and flanker Sean Puke. The Blues broke the line, through some determined thrusts from back-rowers James Wicks and Don Leota, but Devonport scrambled well to confine Taroona’s scoring to a Christo Le Grange penalty two minutes before half-time.
Taroona eventually scored converted tries through left wing Rob Holmes and scrum-half Ed Salter but Devonport held the score to 6-3 until the final 15 minutes through aggression at the breakdown throughout, but failed to make the metres through the phases that they have against other opponents.
Harlequins sprang the upset of the round, defeating Glenorchy 39-29 at Eady Street. Stags coach Shannan Banks said that whilst the home side’s forwards played well, with outstanding mauling, Quins had capitalised on critical Glenorchy mistakes to draw away in the second half.
Quins captain Jeff Altmann agreed that the defence against the strong Stags forward drive was exceptional, but improved Quins forward play let consistent fly-half David Wooleman add valuable strategic kicking to provide variety and compliment the youthful enthusiasm of harassing flanker Beau Scott and fullback David Russell. Prominent amongst the Stags were hooker Tom Dare, fly-half Wally Dare and flanker Xavier Frasson.
University Red Men lost the traditional Guiler Sleeve match 53-0 to rampant visitors Burnie Emus 53-0, who moved to third on the table with a club first-ever stretch of four wins. Veteran Emu Dean Apiti, called to lock from fullback, shaded his son Dane at centre for honours. Flanker and serial ball-thief Brett Bentley scored three tries and fly-half Rhys Webber landed 8 from 9 shots at goal.
Emus coach Dave Webber noted his side’s aggressive and disciplined cleaning out at the tackle contest, with even inexperienced players blooded last year adopting this focus. University’s best were courageous lock Brady Gower, and wingers Nigel Chigwida and Saul Lopa.
Front-runners Launceston beat Hobart Lions 45-17 at Royal Park, with backs Liam Loubser and Charlie Burton led by Jai Maluga as best of a toiling pack. Wilhelm Koch, with 2 tries and Kyle Holland showed out for Hobart, who might have lost by more with better focus by the home side.