In an entertaining game of rugby, Melbourne has defeated Harlequins by a single point to claim their 18th Premier Grade title. The two teams dominated the season finishing first and second. Both teams lost only one game each and drew their second match in the regular season.
Quins defeated the Unicorns in the major Semi-final forcing them to play Box Hill in the Preliminary Final, but the week rest enjoyed by the three-time reigning champions did not show on the pitch.
The game was a tight contest; Harlequins played with more determination in the first half, and Melbourne dominated the second stanza and kept their opponents scoreless. The result was in doubt up to the last second due to a late surge from Quins, but in the end, the best team on the day won.
In a perfect day to play rugby, the game started with points to Melbourne. Deina Morete taking the easy points from a penalty in front of the posts after five minutes of play.
Harlequins responded straight away scoring a Try by Oliva Sialau. A good linebreak help set up the Try in the corner. Ryan Oliver missed the conversion, leaving the score at a 5-3 to Harlequins.
Another penalty from Harlequins gave the Unicorns the option to go again on the scoreboard. Melbourne was again opting for the easy points instead of going for the Try, a decision that proved savvy in the end. Morete again on target with the boot. Scores 6-5 to Melbourne.
The reigning champions put the foot on the accelerator and started gaining solid metres into the Unicorns territory. The pressure led to two Harlequin Tries; Murray Douglas scored a team Try after a big push, and centre Eli Vole a Try in open play. Ryan Oliver was able to convert both majors for a 13-point lead that Quins took into the break.
The drive that lead to the Unicorns’ winning Try. Photo @22Metri.
The half-time address from Melbourne’s coach Tumai Edwards must have been inspiring, as Melbourne came out firing in the second half. Melbourne dominated possession and territory early on and pushed the Quins into their twenty-two. The champions’ defence was brave, but with the loss of Murray Douglas to injury, together with the absence of Angus Hamilton, the cracks started to show.
Best on ground Mick Snowden took a heavy knock, blood running freely from his nose. Despite this, he scored a nice Try under the posts. VaeVae converted it and reduced the margin between the two team to only six points.
With the time running out the Unicorns threw the proverbial kitchen sink at the Harlequins. With their driving maul pushing closer to the line, reserve Hooker Paolo Ragazzi scored the deciding Try with minutes to play.
Faced with the loss, Harlequins tried to push back into Melbourne’s territory, but could not score.
This Grand Final was a game to remember. It was played with a lot of courage and determination from both teams, in the end, the Unicorns deserved the win. The bench was a factor and it gave Melbourne the edge.
Final Score: Melbourne 20 – Harlequins 19
Tries: Snowden, Ragazzi
Conv: Morete 2/2
Pen.: Morete 2/3
Tries: Sialau, Douglas, Vole
Conv: Oliver 2/3