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- Sydney Uni Lions (9-1) vs. UTS Gators (6-4)
- Regular Season Result: SYD 58 – 6 UTS
- Choc’s Prediction: UTS by 3
What an absolute classic this was! Massive thanks goes out to both the Lions and Gators organisations for putting on one of the greatest games the GNSW has seen in a many years. The Gators opened the scoring off a FB run by Tim Clulow and went up by 14 points just before halftime. This was a scoreline that the Lions were not used to seeing; evident by their body language near the end of the half. Coming out of the break, it seems Coach Ogborne had given inspiration to his troops, as they came out a completely different side in the second stanza. Lions QB Ike Fuchs rallied his men behind him and turned the tide. Now they had UTS on the back foot and were charging like their lives depended on it. Fuchs was able to level the score in the dying minutes of the 4th quarter and for the first time in recent history, send the game into overtime. For those who aren’t aware, GNSW overtime is exactly the same as the NCAA overtime rules; in which each team will have possession of the ball for one drive at the opponents 25-yard line. If they score, the opposing team must reply in turn, but if they fail to score, the other team wins. In this instance, UTS started with the football on the Lions 25-yard line. And what a stop it was! The Lions were able to hold out the Gators for one drive and then marched down the other end of the field to begin their attack for a spot in the Waratah Bowl. And that they did, with the man of the moment, Ike Fuchs running the ball in from the Gators 10-yard line. And with that, in heart-breaking fashion, the long awaited Waratah Bowl appearance for the Gators was over. But what a game it was; with the Gators pounding away at the defending champions and coming within inches of putting the game away for good, to the Lions resurging in the second half and coming back from 14 points down to come away with the win. Honestly, if you weren’t there for this one, you missed out. Now the Lions look towards their 18th consecutive Waratah Bowl appearance against a familiar opponent.
Final Score: Sydney Uni 27 – 21 UTS (OT)
- West Sydney Pirates (10-0) vs. Northern Sydney Rebels (6-4)
- Regular Season Result: WST 21 – 18 REB
- Choc’s Prediction: West Sydney by 7
I think to say that just the Uni/UTS game was the best one of the night is a lie. This one was also incredible! The youngest club in the GNSW came within a one score of making their first ever Waratah Bowl appearance ever, but the Pirates weren’t about to roll over and let this happen. The Rebels made a huge statement from the opening kickoff, with RB Mitch Kirk running the ball back to for a TD. The Pirates were able to answer back quickly, with the ensuing Rebels drive halted by a 95-yard pick 6 by FS Chris Goddard. Going into the halftime break, both teams had scored again, but missed their conversions and this brought the score to 12 all. The 3rd quarter turned into an all-out war of attrition type game, in which neither team were going to give in. This all came to a head late in the 4th quarter, when Pirates QB David Ward found WR Mitch Hunt in the endzone and put his guys up by 6 points. You could hear the collective hearts of the Rebels and their fans break all at once but they should all keep their heads high. From a club that has only been around for 4 seasons, to coming within 6 points of beating the Waratah Bowl runners up 3 years running, they have nothing to be ashamed of. This is a true testament to their organisation and players and they should all be commended for placing in the top 4 again this year. However, in this game we can’t focus on the losing team, but rather the winners. Next week the Pirates will face their arch-rivals, Sydney University, for the coveted title of GNSW Champions.
Final Score: West Sydney 18 – 12 Northern Sydney
In the Colts, the Sydney Uni Cubs beat the UTS Gators in OT and the Sutherland Seahawks thumped the Central West Giants; and will now face each other next week in the Kookaburra Bowl.
And in the Womens division, the ACT Diamonds beat the 2 time Opal Bowl runners up, the Northwestern Phoenix to set a date with the UNSW Raiders in the Opal Bowl.
With these results, the stage is set for the 2017 GNSW Championship series. Keep an eye out right here on Gridiron Down Under for the Waratah Bowl XXXIII preview and also the links for the livestream where yours truly will be hosting!
**Photo Credit: Alex Lambousis