Saturday, December 2nd – Lidcombe Oval – 6pm Kick Off
- Northern Sydney Rebels (6-4) vs. UNSW Raiders (6-4)
- (Regular Season Result: REB 7 – 3 RAI)
- Choc’s Prediction: Rebels by 3
I gotta say, this week it was tough to pick which playoff game would provide more fireworks, but in my head in kinda knew this one would be great to watch. And I was not wrong. The Raiders came into this one looking to avenge a regular season loss to the Rebels and were looking to do this with a full-strength team. They had all their offensive weapons back; QB Lukas Vojnar, RB Lamar Dansby, RB Christian Gaitau and WR Max Nina, so Head Coach Paul Manera was looking to avenge this loss and make a big statement to the top 3 teams. Some people think the Rebels had a lot to prove, but I think after their performance last year, they now have a reputation to maintain; as one of the top eschelon teams in the GNSW. The Raiders opened with a surprise under centre, with backup QB Chris Ravlich taking the reins at QB. The first quarter was tough sledding for both sides, with the rain causing serious issues for both teams moving the ball. In the second quarter, the Rebels were able to open the scoring after a 60-yard drive. The funny thing is that most of those yards were given away by the Raiders through costly flags. After some back and forth play, the Rebels set themselves up with great field position after blocking a punt from the Raiders. This set up a short drive which put them up 12-0 just before halftime. When the Raiders came back out, Coach Manera decided to change up the look of his O by putting in starting QB Lukas Vojnar back under centre. Some people might say this was a bad decision but I’ll just call it back luck on part of the Raiders as Rebels CB Ben Lucas picked off a pass from Vojnar and took it back to the house to put his team up 20-0 at the break. The second half is where most of the issues occurred. The Raiders became chippy and were picking up plenty of personal fouls. The Rebels tried to capitalise on this but weren’t able to score. Midway through the 4th quarter, an all-in brawl occurred and a few unfortunate incidents caused the referees to halt the game. I’m unsure who made the final decision but after the Rebels cleared the field back to the sheds, the game was called and the Rebels were handed the victory. It’s unfortunate the way the season ended for the Raiders as they had a great run in the tail-end of the regular season, and here’s hoping the issues that happened on the field won’t come back to bite them next year. Meanwhile, the Rebels will continue to ride their wave of momentum into their semi-final clash with the Pirates this Saturday!
Final Score: Northern Sydney 20 – 0 UNSW
- UTS Gators (6-4) vs. Sutherland Seahawks (5-5)
- Regular Season Result: UTS 20 – 16 SEA
- Choc’s Prediction: Sutherland by 3
In a game that I thought would be a lot closer, the Gators steamrolled the Seahawks into a semi-final showdown with the Lions. In the words of Gators captain and starting QB, Jordan Rowland, UTS “found their mojo again.” In all fairness, the Seahawks were fielding a team that was unfortunately marred by injuries. If they had their full-strength team, I think the scoreline would have been a lot closer. The Gators started with (still the best-looking man in the GNSW) Ben Loudon under centre, instead of Rowland. Rowland instead lined up at his natural position of RB in place of Freddie Khouiss. And it seemed this combination worked for the Gators, with JR scoring a TD and picking up close to 160 all-purpose yards, RB Matt Utai picking up 2 of his own and even LB Tim Clulow scoring 2 himself at FB. I think Clulow easily had his game of the season, not only scoring twice on O but wreaking havoc among the Seahawks O line and recording 4 sacks in total on D. The Gators will want to keep this momentum going into next week when they have a long-anticipated rematch with the defending champions, Sydney Uni.
Final Score: UTS 42 – 6 Sutherland
Stay tuned for my semi-final preview coming tomorrow!
*West Sydney and Sydney Uni had the bye this week*
**Photo Credit: Alfr3d Wong Photography – also check out my boy Benny Lucas gliding into the semi-finals like… 😉