Freak try turning point for students
By STEVE SPINKS
ONE of the freakiest tries in Bangalow Hotel Far North Coast rugby union this season set up by halfback Matt Anderson was the impetus behind a stunning 48-27 victory by Southern Cross University over Wollongbar at Lyle Park, Wollongbar, on Saturday.
Anderson was the toast of the students' celebrations after the match after his flukey kick on the stroke of half-time set up a brilliant try that turned the match.
Uni were clinging to an 18-10 lead in the dying stages of the first half and were desperately defending their own line for 10 minutes.
Finally, a Wollongbar turnover allowed the Gold Rats a scrum feed five metres out from their own posts.
Uni won their scrum but the ball shot out and Anderson tried to clear from behind his own try-line.
He miscued and the ball grubbered along the try-line.
The crowd had a collective intake of breath.
Two Wollongbar players almost scored, but the ball bounced its way out to winger Jake Juscszak who made a 40 metre break.
Uni won the phase and the ball was spread wide to centre James Howley who set off down field only to be tackled 10 metres short of the Pioneers try-line.
Again the Students recycled the ball and it was eventually spread to second-rower Brendan Brookes who brushed through some disorganised defence to score.
It was a brilliant, lucky try, but it turned the match with the Gold Rats taking a commanding 23-10 lead into the break.
"I've seen a few freaky ones, but that would have to be up there," Uni coach Matt Want said.
"We didn't really mention it after the game, but we spoke about it at half-time and had a bit of a joke about the plan move ... it was pretty funny."
The Gold Rats went on with the job in the second-half with their phase play and width of attack impressive.
Fullback Pat McMahon, five-eighth Eddie Douglas, No8 Dan Doyle and second-rower Henry Vanderglas were outstanding, while the Uni front-row of Dan Richards, Adam Condon and Dave Hayter can also take a bow.
Wollongbar put plenty of pressure on the Students scrum, but it held.
Flanker Peter Murphy was also strong around the fringes.
The Pioneers were far from disgraced and produced plenty of enterprising play.
They just couldn't match the speed of the Gold Rats attack.
Best for the hosts was No8 Ryan Hamilton, five-eighth Nick Henry and winger Matt Lloyd, while second-rower Matt Ireland also toiled hard.
The win keeps Uni in the hunt for a top four spot, while Wollongbar look to be out of semi-final contention.
Last-gasp loss ... again!
FOR the second week in a row Ballina have been burned in the last 10 minutes of the match.
Last week Uni kicked a penalty to defeat the Seahorses, on Saturday it was Lismore City who scored late to take an exciting 23-19 victory at the Quays Reserve, Ballina.
City prop Stu Edmonds capitalised on a driving maul and some tired Seahorse defence to score the match-winner in the last 10 minutes.
The try was the final part of a dramatic Lismore fightback.
Early in the second-half the defending premiers were 19-6 down.
However, a converted try by winger Ben Sloane and the match-winner by Edmonds was enough to see them home.
"It was a very tight, tough win," City coach Peter Tozer said.
"They (Ballina) had it all over us in the first-half, but our guys fired in the second."
The try capped off a fine game by Edmonds, while flankers Heath Conlan and James Olivieri and centre Nigel Marshall also played strongly.
Ballina No8 Sonny Filimonehala was exceptional in his first top grade match for the season, while five-eighth Michael Greenhalgh and centre Matt Wiggins offered good support.
Lismore's win takes them to the top of the FNC ladder.
Pivot's power game
A POWERFUL running game by Grafton five-eighth John Chevally set up his side to a tough 21-15 victory over Yamba at Grafton Rugby Park.
Chevally, a former South Grafton rugby league player, has been a revelation since switching back to the code in which he made a same for himself as a schoolboy.
His hard running set up a 20 minutes two-try blitz by the Redmen early in the second-half which pushed the game out of the Buccaneers reach.
Grafton led 7-0 at half-time and then pushed out to a 21-3 before Yamba staged a late fightback.
Chevally and No8 Al Donaghy were the best for the hosts, while fullback Adrian Miller scored two tries and played strongly for the Buccaneers.