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A spectacular triple to St.George Reds winger Rod Davies tipped off University’s 47-15 demolition of the Sunshine Coast as part of a special commemorative round of the Strategic Airlines Queensland Premier Rugby competition for University’s Halley Appleby held at the Noosa Rugby Club.
A strong crowd at the Noosa Club, who Halley represented until the under-15 division, took the opportunity to celebrate the life of the twenty-one year old that passed away last month by hosting the Premier Rugby game and laying a memorial plaque on a newly-planted tree.
University took to the occasion, indulging the crowd with eighty minutes of flashy try-scoring offense iced with a rocketing Rod Davies triple and a 22-0 second-half score-line that saw them charge to an impressive victory and consolidate their top three position in the backend of the competition.
Getting off to a quick lead, the Red Heavies showed their class from the kickoff before the Sunshine Coast put the pressure on with a 25-15 half-time score, but it was all University in the second half, as the gaps opened up on the wings and they roughed the white chalk four times in the second forty minutes.
“You’re always a bit concerned when you let in a couple of soft tries. Defensively we just didn’t aim up for about a ten minute period, but the game plan was to keep them going up the middle and the cracks started showing out wide so we got some pretty good conversions there,” University coach Mick Heenen said.
With Halley Appleby’s initials embroidered on their chests, University relished the celebration in his junior community, turning their focus to a solid, tough style of play and an impressive win against their 2010 grand final opponents.
“It’s been an emotionally taxing few weeks and I think some of the guys are still struggling with it a little bit, but Halley was an extremely popular member of the club and he’s never going to be forgotten, so the guys are just trying to focus on the task at hand,” Heenen said.
Both teams prodded at each other early, trading penalty kicks in the first ten minutes, but with University looking likely, the scoreboard was broken when Davies broke through the centres to open his account and weaving centre Simon Morahan crossed for the 18-3 lead shortly after.
But, just as the game seemed certain, impressive Stingrays winger Stephan Van Der Walt was given room on the right wing and, fending defenders off, charged over the line; number eight Kevin McKenzie backed up with a strong running try on the left wing to confirm an 18-15 ballgame.
Despite University hitting back immediately out wide, the game was in the balance with the 25-15 half-time score, but University came out firing in the second half with prop James Hanson crashing over in the first phases of the half.
Building steam, the University team showed dangerously impressive form to round out the game with Davies owning the left wing and speeding to a double before winger Tevita Kuridani rounded out the fourth try in the second half and the 47-15 score-line for University.
With just three rounds remaining before finals football, Heenen was confident University is where they need to be as they look to extend their premiership reign.
“Things are on an upward trend and that’s where you want to be at this stage of the competition,” he said.
University 47 (Rod Davies 3, Simon Morahan, Con Foley, Tevita Kuridrani, James Hanson tries; Ian Prior con 3 pen 2) def Sunshine Coast 15 (Kevin McKenzie, Stephan Van Der Walt tries; Akeem Williams-Coveney con pen)
Match report by Amy Price
14 DECEMBER 2018