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It has been said that defence wins games and that statement could not be more appropriate to the 4th grade grand final as Sydney Uni tackled their way to the 2014 Henderson Cup. Minor Premiers Eastwood controlled possession and territory early on and spent the best part of the first 15 minutes camped out in Uni's half, however strong defence ensured that a penalty goal was all they had to show for it.
The early start meant the overnight moisture on the pitch had not dried up which made conditions a little slippery. This somewhat restricted Uni's natural, up tempo style of play and suited Eastwood who looked to make yards around the ruck area. Eastwood's pressure finally took its toll and they scored an unconverted try to take a 8-0 lead shortly before half time. Uni hit back with a brilliant try from a set piece on our own 22; some great support play showed the ball pass through 6 sets of hands for Rhys Griffiths to touch down. Billy Macklin slotted the conversion and Uni went into the break 8-7 down.
We spoke about using that try as a momentum shift and sought to control more of the ball in the second half. We ventured into Eastwood territory early in the second half and came away with 3 points from a Billy Macklin penalty goal to take the lead for the first time in the match. Normal service was resumed after that however as Eastwood again dominated possession and territory.
Wave after wave of attack was launched at Uni's defensive line which held strong at the constant bombardment. The Uni defence was well organised and the boys' tackles were effective; Eastwood were becoming frustrated that they could not penetrate. Uni ventured into Eastwood territory again and came away with a penalty goal to take a 13-8 lead with just 5 minutes to go; could we hang on from here?
With the minutes counting down Uni finally spent some time pressing Eastwood's line and with the final siren sounding, Kodie Drury-Hawkins crossed out wide to seal the victory. Macklin nailed the conversion to make the final score 20-8.
The game didn't play out as we had planned but the players showed patience, guts and determination worthy of champions. Grand Finals are all about taking your opportunities when they're there; we came away with points every time we entered the Eastwood 22 and restricted them from doing the same.
It was an epic Grand Final and the culmination of a season of hard work. The players gave everything they had out there and a coach could not ask for more. Well done boys; enjoy the feeling, you deserve it.
4th Grade Prizes
4th XV Best Forward 2014: Nick Lyall
4th XV Best Back 2014: Kodie Drury-Hawkins & Rhys Griffiths