By Jim Tucker
St.George Queensland Reds forward Angus Scott-Young will miss the grand final as the unfortunate postscript to University of Queensland’s commanding premiership statement.
The Red Heavies were never headed when dealing with minor premiers Easts 37-19 on Saturday in a decisive major semi-final display.
The win at Ballymore in the AllSports Physiotherapy Hospital Challenge Cup did come at a cost.
The industrious Scott-Young, starting at lock for his club rather in his accustomed backrow slot, went down early after being grounded awkwardly in a tackle.
He stayed on for several minutes before limping off with what coach Mick Heenan later assessed as a month-long medial ligament strain.
Uni made a rapid 10-nil start in the opening five minutes and Easts were on the backfoot from then on.
Lock Connor Vest drove stoutly for a pick-and-drive try to start the Uni momentum and the importance of Easts talisman Ben Mowen was instantly evident.
He was out of the play with blood flowing from a cut brow from an accidental boot that flicked up on the edge of a ruck and was off the field getting it bandaged when young gun winger Mac Grealy was scoring Uni’s second.
Teenager Grealy has plenty of strings to his attacking bow but a sharp in-and-away to beat a winger like Shane Kennedy in a halo the size of a hula hoop is definitely one of the best.
Uni’s early ball retention and pace of play was a lesson that the Tigers were with the big boys in a major semi.
Not so many years ago, one Heenan team skipped through the regular season as minor premiers only to bow out in straight sets in the finals because they weren’t prepared for the extra gear of finals footy.
“Yes, that was a lesson. I was really pleased with the ball retention in the way we attacked but also how we defended our tryline under pressure in the second half,” Heenan said.
The Uni backrow of Sam Wallis, Conor Mitchell and captain Pat Morrey was dominant while centre Con Foley was superb at marshalling the defensive effort.
Easts halfback Eli Pilz putting hooker Richie Asiata into space in the 11th minute was the Tigers’ first sign of a rally.
A malfunctioning lineout was an unfamiliar problem for Easts but the Tigers kept in touch with four Pilz penalty goals.
Late in the first half, the score was cut to 27-13 when fullback Aidan Toua nudged a kick ahead with a second boot to score Easts’ only try.
Big forward Seru Uru had some good touches but the Tigers are going to need to do some head-scratching before their preliminary final if they are to win another crack at Uni in the October 31 grand final.