Heavies back to business in Premier Grade

Nic Darveniza

 

The University of Queensland Red Heavies have defeated Wests 57-17 in Premier Grade’s first west-side derby of 2017

The new-look Heavies, missing eight starters from 2016’s Grand Final, showed great variety in attack to put nine tries through Wests in the first competition match at their new home, Scifleet Stadium.

The win sends UQ straight to the top of the Premier Rugby leaderboard with a firm grip on the competition’s best attacking record while holding the second-best defensive record as well.

Acting captain and scrumhalf Scott Gale was named Man of the Match in the season-opening clash, taking out the True Protein High Performer award for Round One’s best player.

Defence coach Elton Berrange said the match went as expected, given the improvements the side has made over the course of the preseason.

“I think the boys really benefitted from knowing their roles this weekend, whereas in the trials the chopping and changing really affected that.

“University always lines up with a younger team than most and this year we’ve taken it even further, but we’re expecting some more experienced guys back soon.

“I thought (openside flanker, 20-year-old) Conor Moroney was one of our best, he really slowed down their ball and stifled their attack,” Berrange said. “He was probably unlucky not to have six or seven turnovers, so if he keeps that up he’ll be in for one hell of a season.”

Buoyed by a powerful wind sweeping down towards Sylvan Road, the kicking game of reunited halves partners Scott Gale and James Dalgleish kept the Bulldogs pinned down and under pressure from start to finish.

The Red Heavies lived true to their name in a physical first half and Wests had no answers for the power game of the forwards.

Three tries from close range and one long range strike delivered UQ a 26-10 lead at the half-time break which would prove impossible to overcome.

Pick and drive tries in the third, 13th and 25th minute to lock Pat Morrey, flanker Sam Wallis and prop James McColl pushed University out to a formidable 19-nil lead.

Wests roared to life with a long range try but the boisterous crowd were quickly silenced as centre Nathan Russell took a well-timed offload to the big house in the 32nd minute.

Blessed with possession and territory to close the half, Wests attacked with impetus to force their way over for a second unconverted try.

That would prove Wests’ last hurrah as the Heavies piled on tries to Campbell Wakely, Nathan Russell, Clifton Setu and two to Jack Cornelsen after half-time to secure a nine try win.

The win bucks University’s recent trend of dropping season openers and delivered memorable Premier Grade starting debuts to James McColl, Sam Wallis and Matt Feaunati, as well as to Jacob Williams, SJ Tamala and TJ Siakisini from the bench.

WESTS 17 (Tries: Liam Dillon, Shai Wiperi, Sione Na’a Helu; Cons: Byron Hutchinson (1/3) defeated by UNIVERSITY 57 (Tries: Pat Morrey, Sam Wallis, James McColl, Nathan Russell (2), Cam Wakely, Jack Cornelsen (2), Clifton Setu; Cons: James Dalgleish (6/7), Alex Horan (0/2)