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Dominant scrum cements vital win over Wicks

Southern Districts Rebels put together one of their most determined and spirited performances of the season to grab a vital bonus point 34-30 win at Coogee Oval over Randwick. The Rebels finish in second place and face fifth placed defending premiers Northern Suburbs this Sunday at Forshaw Rugby Park in the qualifying finals weekend.

(Photo: Jessica Reading)

The eight man synchronicity of the Rebels scrum was a highlight for the loyal band of supporters who made the journey across to the Eastern suburbs to watch the final regular season match - a ninth consecutive win that capped a perfect second half of the season.

Kicking off and running to the city end, Southern Districts made the perfect start to the match as skipper Marcus Carbone spectacularly caught the ball to regain possession.

(Photo: Jessica Reading)

Then after only 40 seconds and a couple of phases, it was Jed Hollaway who broke through the defence on the edge and popped a great pass to scrum half Eli Pilz for the opening try! 7-0 Rebels as Rohan Saifoloi made no mistake with his conversion.

(Photo: Malcolm Chuck)

Randwick recovered from their lacklustre beginning and capitalised on a few uncharacteristic handling errors from Southern Districts. A kick-off was mishandled which lead to a Wicks penalty goal, before a dropped ball allowed winger Henry Hutchison to race 60 metres and push the home side into the lead at 10-7.

Randwick continued their surge with field position and then over again for another try via a strong rolling maul from a lineout, extending to 15-7 up. A penalty goal soon after put the gap out further to 18-7.

Southern Districts finally stemmed the tide and managed a rolling maul try of the their own to Brandon Paenga-Amosa. No conversion this time from Saifoloi with a tricky swirling sea breeze. Back to 18-12.

A number of repeated ruck infringements from Randwick put one of their players to the sin bin in the 29th minute, and the Rebels capitalised on the one man advantage and dominated territory for the remainder of the half. A penalty try was awarded in the 34th minute, just as it seemed Hollaway might have scored anyway, and the extras added put the visitors back in front 19-18. A penalty goal to Saifoloi right at the end of the half sent the boys to the sheds leading 22-18.

The Southern Districts’ defence was stretched for the opening passages of the second half, but held on when required including a crunching try saving tackle by winger Ben Connelly in the 46th minute.

But unfortunately the Rebels line was eventually broken and they let their half time advantage slip. Back to back Randwick tries midway through the second stanza swung momentum in the home side’s favour 30-22 with 18 minutes to play.

Once the boys were finally able to gain some better territory, replacement front rower Matt Gibbon bulldozed his way to score from 15 metres out in the 67th minute. Saifoloi coolly added the extras to set the scene for a heart stopping final 10 minutes.

(Photo: Malcolm Chuck)

Still trailing 29-30 with less than five minutes to go, the scrum became the focal point as repeated resets began to take its toll on the Wicks forwards. The Rebels showed no interest in a three point penalty shot, and waited as forward replacements for the Wicks came on, and then one eventually off again with a yellow card.

Another penalty try must have been nearing, but the Rebels were able to crash the ball over after a few surges from the back of the scrum. Unsurprisingly it was tireless hooker and man of the match Paenga-Amosa who took the vital pick and go for his second try to retake the lead.

At 34-30, less than a minute remained, but Randwick pushed one last effort to force a turnover as the siren sounded. The Rebels defence was tested to the limit for 15 phases, with the Wicks shifting their attack from side to side. At last a forward pass drew the full-time whistle and signalled another amazing win.

(Photo: Malcolm Chuck)

Prepared by Favourite Son Hill writer and raconteur Brendan MacNamara 

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