The Dukes 2019 campaign didn’t get off to a winning start this past weekend, however there were many high points in a tough fought 42-17 loss to the Sydney Convicts.
After an arm wrestle of a first 20 mins where the Dukes were in opposition territory for the majority of play, yet unable to crack the line, the Convicts struck against the run of play twice to jump out to a 14-0 lead.
The Dukes once again found themselves with the ball in hand inside the Convicts half. Newly converted fullback Reece “Tank” Milne took matters into his own hands, placing a box kick in on the blindside, pressuring the Convicts 15 who had trouble under the high ball. Once again the ball was put down and Tank was off and away, dotting the ball under the posts just on halftime, Dukes trailing 14-7.
The boys were out on their feet at half time after a great effort put in in the first half, but weren’t done yet. A dropped ball from the Convicts gifted the Dukes possession and were quick to capitalise, new recruit Kyle McDonough diving over in the corner in what may be the quickest try within strapping on a pair of boots. Conversion unsuccessful from out wide, 14-12 to the Convicts.
55 minutes into the tussle and the Dukes boys were willing yet the body was unable to hold up, everyone out on their feet the Convicts struck back with their fleet footed and rested backs, breaking the Dukes line and running away 70m for a try. From there the floodgates opened and another 3 tries soon followed using a very similar formula.
Right on the 80th minute, flanker Doug Cusack found himself on the wing and able to put the ball over the line after nice catching and passing from the forwards on the short side. Conversion unsuccessful from the touchline, Convicts running out winners 42-17.
Special mention to “Big Poppa” Michael Malone who left work early and made a 2 minute cameo before receiving a phone call (while on the field) which forced him to leave straight away for an emergency job, and also to Kyle McDonough who was talked into playing for the first half and pulled on a jersey during the halftime break to help the team.
The game was a lot closer than the scoreline sounds and it should be noted that the Dukes were playing with 14 players for a majority of the game, injury tolls and public holidays playing a factor in playing numbers, an issue the Convicts definitely didn’t have on the day.
3 – Reece Milne (Fullback)
2 – Andrew Meiklejohn (No. 8)
1 – Chris Stephenson (Second Row)
Other games around the competition saw Burraneer run out winners over next week’s opposition Engadine 36-19 and North Cronulla traveled to Rose Bay to take the win from Maccabi 18-7.