Super Rugby


2018 Hospital Challenge Cup Semi-Finals Wrap

By Tom Primmer

Major Semi-Final: University of Queensland defeat GPS 24-21

UQ have defeated GPS in a dramatic major semi-final to seal their third consecutive Hopsital Challenge Cup grand-final appearance.

The Students were pushed to their limits by the Gallopers, the second-placed side dominating the second half, with Uni also forced to play the last five minutes of the match a player down following a yellow-card to prop Hamish Richardson,

Despite their disadvantage, the Heavies held strong to secure a 24-21-point victory at Ballymore, with the match not decided until the final siren.

UQ and St.George Queensland Reds representative Adam Korczyk praised his sides never-say-die attitude whilst defending to save the game with a man down.

“The boys really had to get close and remember that we can still win this game, we would just have to work harder,” the flanker said.

“That’s what Uni boys really pride ourselves on, we keep working hard and with one less man it’s always going to be a tough job. 

“We got away with it in the end, but we can’t be giving away those types of penalties in grand-finals.”

After a 54-17 defeat in their last encounter, Korczyk applauded the improved performance of the Gallopers.

“Jeeps were ready. They knew from that game at St Lucia that they had to work on a few things and they really showed it today,” Korczyk said.

“They really put us under pressure in that second half especially. 

“We’ve really got to work on our processes and keep playing for the full 80 minutes.”

“We didn’t play our game, we let them back in and then it was a bit of a nail biter at the end.”

“It’s good to have the week off and get ready for a grand-final.”

Heavies skipper and the competition’s leading point scorer James Dalgleish added the first points of the game in the opening stages, the Uni flyhalf kicking a penalty goal to give his side a 3-0 advantage.

Dalgleish increased his points tally in the 20th minute, the playmaker beating three GPS defenders to dart over the line and score.

The sharpshooter converted his own try to give the Students a 10-0 lead at the midway point of the opening half.

It didn’t take UQ much longer to improve to their lead, former Australian schoolboy Will Eadie dashing over 50 metres to score a brilliant individual try for the Heavies.

GPS were the next to score, the Gallopers hitting back in 32nd minute through fullback Albert Nikoro, who ran a beautiful line to crash over on the back of a short ball from flyhalf Davis Tevita.

The try-scoring opportunity came through an imposing Jeep’s rolling-maul, the Galloper’s and Red’s front rowers JP and Ruan Smith charging their pack close to the UQ line to give Nikoro his chance.

However GPS’ joy did not last long, with Eadie scoring his second five-pointer just two minutes later, the flying winger crashing over in the corner after a slick backline sequence.

Dalgleish continued his perfect form with the boot, converting to give the Heavies a 24-7 lead.

The seesawing first half continued soon after, with GPS number-eight Mitch King burrowing his way over just before the half time break to keep the Gallopers in the game at 24-14.

The opening 20 minutes of the second stanza saw a glut of GPS field position and possession, the Gallopers threating Uni’s line constantly on the back of their powerful forward pack. 

Despite a lengthy period of stubborn defence, the pressure soon became too much to bear for the Students, Jeep’s winger Jonathan Kent scoring out wide following a James Tuttle-engineered blindside play. 

Tuttle converted the try to reduce the minor-premiers’ lead to just three at 24-21 with 18 minutes to play.

With just five minutes to play a yellow card to Richardson, for a scrum infringement, threatened to provide GPS with the ammunition required to overcome the Heavies, who were forced to hold on to their narrow lead with just 14 men.

However the young students defence remained steadfast despite missing their starting prop.

Uni withstood a last-gasp GPS attack, before a Pat Morrey pilfer ensuring the minor-premier’s place in the 2018 grand-final.

University of Queensland 24 (W Eadie 2 tries J Dalgleish try pen 3 cons) d GPS 21 (M King A Nikoro M Treleaven tries J Tuttle 3 cons)

Minor Semi-Final: Easts defeat Souths 25-17

Underdogs Easts have overcome Souths in a tightly contested minor semi-final at Ballymore.

The Tigers managed a 25-17 victory against the Magpies, continuing a memorable season for the young side and their vocal supporters.

Easts flanker Liam Wright put his team’s win down to their willingness to stay in the game.

“We stuck it out for the full 80,” said Wright, who was in Wallabies camp and played in last Fridays night’s trial match.

“It was a massive grind, the ball was a bit slippery, but we really just stuck it in there in defence and really fought for each other the whole game as opposed to 40 or 60-minute efforts like in past games.”

Easts will now face GPS to qualify for the grand-final and despite two losses to the Gallopers during the regular season, Wright and the Tigers think they have what it takes to win next weekend.

“Come finals time we know it just takes one game, 80 minutes each week,” he said.

“We’re going to put it in at training this week and show up on Sunday next week and give it all we’ve got.”

Keeghan Sefton added the Tiger’s first points in the ninth minute, the winger kicking a penalty goal from 35 metres out to give Easts a 3-0 lead.

The scoreboard did not change for the next twenty minutes, the attacking potencies of both sides nullified by errors and strong defence from either outfit.

Tautalatasi Tasi would soon break the deadlock in the 30th minute, the Magpie’s centre pouncing on a loose pass before streaking away to score a 40-metre intercept try.

Quade Cooper converted from in front to give Souths a 7-3 advantage.

South’s advantage was cut down just minutes later, Easts hitting back through winger Savenaca Totovosau, who dashed down the right sideline to score in the corner.

Totovosau’s five-pointer would be the last points of the first-half-, the game hanging in the balance with Easts leading 8-7.

Cooper’s boot gave Souths a one-point lead in the early stages of the second 40, the former Wallaby nailing a penalty goal to give the Magpies a 10-8 advantage with 35 minutes to play.

The game’s momentum continued to swing between both sides, but it was Easts who were next to seize a point scoring opportunity, fullback Shane Kennedy crossing for the Tiger’s second try.

Sefton converted from close to the sideline, giving the underdogs a 15-10 lead with 30 minutes on the clock.

Another Sefton penalty goal, this time in the 58th minute, gave the Tigers an eight-point lead heading into the match’s final stages.

A through the hands movement led to a Simana Halaifonua try next to the right corner post for Souths, before Cooper calmly slotted the sideline conversion to send the game to 18-17 with just 15 minutes to play.

Cooper almost sent the Souths crowd into a frenzy with a daring play, refusing a certain three-point penalty goal before chipping to his winger who, despite marking the ball, failed to ground it in the in goal.

The Souths flyhalf had another chance to give Souths the lead with a penalty kick, however the 45-metre effort faded to the right of the uprights, keeping Souths behind by one with ten minutes to play.

An unstoppable rolling-maul close to the Magpie’s line sent the Easts crowd into furore, Richie Asiata crashing over before Sefton once again converted to secure an elimination final appearance for the Tigers.

Easts will play GPS next weekend at Ballymore to decide who will meet UQ in the 2018 Hospital Challenge Cup grand-final.

Easts 25 (R Asiata S Totovosau S Kennedy tries K Sefton 2 pens 2 cons) d Souths 17 (S Halaifonua T Tasi tries Q Cooper pen 2 cons)

Rugby Traveller