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Metro Division 2 - Final
University proved too strong for Burnside in the Division 2 final at Rugby Park on Sunday winning 26-20.
Played in beautiful conditions in front of a good crowd, University deserved their win in what was an entertaining and closely fought encounter.
Burnside started the stronger and led 3-0 after the first 14 minutes. University then struck back with a try to first-five Kurt Rooney, which he ably converted. Burnside then reduced the lead with a penalty to Willie Brown.
University though looked dangerous when they were able to spread the ball wide. A try to Adam Smith resulted after the students were able to move the ball through the hands and get the pill to Smith who then skilfully kicked the ball through, chased and scored. It was a quality try that deserved five points and it have gave University a decent 12-6 lead.
Strangely University was having trouble getting the ball wide. On the occasions that they did do so they looked very good. An example of this was an attack after 29 minutes when centre Jason Pitima (who had an outstanding match) scored. The Rooney conversion made it 19-6 to the students and they deserved their lead.
Willie Brown was proving a danger to the students and his converted try after 33 minutes got Burnside right back into the match. The half-time score was 19-13.
University had the better of the second half, being strong at recycling and looking more dangerous on attack. It was Pitima who scored 16 minutes after another sustained period of offensive rugby by University.
Now 26-13 ahead, University was now in the box-seat and they did everything they could to play the game in the opponent’s half. A late run-away try by Burnside centre Sam Binden was too little too late and the students ran out 26-20 winners in an entertaining match.
Burnside had lacked penetration out wide, while University had more ball-players and were able to use what ball they received more effectively. For the students hooker and captain Tommy Fluen was outstanding, while experienced lock Jimmy Mullarkey was effective in most facets of play. In the backs centre Pitima was dynamic, while half-back Adam Wheeler was a controlling force.
For Burnside Willie Brown was always dangerous, while full-back Eli Samueli looked useful with ball in hand. Lock Paddy Coughlan was strong around the field.
University co-coach Les Black said that his side was delighted with the win after being bridesmaids last season. “We had a disjointed season with players being injured and called up by other teams. It was only in the last four weeks that we were able to build any combinations. As a result of our situation we slipped under the radar during the season and that worked in our favour in the end I thought.”
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