Dukes knock off competition heavyweights in thriller

It took all 80 minutes to finally get the W, but with all 15 men pulling together, the Dukes have finally broken through for their first competition points of the year. Topped off with a fantastic last second try, the Dukes ran out 38-34 winners in a thrilling contest over Engadine.

This wasn’t the only action on the day though as our Old Boys strapped up for their first encounter of the season against Lane Cove. Many of the old heads from years gone by represented Dukes from all the seasons previously played. The game also gave the opportunity for some Dukes debuts with Thomas Ray and Troy Hodges pulling on the black and white for the first time.

While the bodies were stiff and some were moving as slow as they ever have, the boys put on a good showing, going down narrowly 10-5 against a solid Covies outfit. Some slick footwork and ball play from the Ramea boys were not to be out done by their old man Teddy Ramea, displaying his power and strength showing he could still mix it up with the younger crowd (only that he would need a bit more recovery time!).

Old Boy Anthony Te Arri showing he still has what it takes!

Some great games played by the boys out there on the day and a big thanks to all involved on the Dukes and the Lave Cove side of things.

On to the main game of the day which started off in a less than positive fashion for the Dukes, dropping 3 players in the first 15 minutes (Kev Morris, Bryn Grantham and Luke Cleary all succumbing to injury). This didn’t deter the players though, with Chris Stephenson leading the forward pack from the front in a strong display of attack and defence and captain Stefan von Zelewski distributing the ball to the back line, keeping the opposition guessing at all times.

The Dukes lineout – clinical for the entire game

After Engadine’s dangerous centre combination teamed up to score early, the Dukes struck back with Isreal Seufale crashing over in the corner to level the scores at 5-5. Engadine wasted no time in hitting back to make the score 10-5 with a nice chip and chase. With 5 minutes to play in the half, second rower Alex Schulz found himself wide open 10m out and running over for what he thought was a certain try. Some desperate Lions defence denied the try however shortly after, utility back Reece Milne went over for his 3rd try of the year. Conversion successful and going into half time, the Dukes are up 12-10 over a shocked Lions outfit not expecting this level of a fight.

Soon after half time, the Dukes on the attack in the Engadine 22m, a mishap with the ball in hand saw the Lions streak away down the touchline to retake the lead and then put on another try straight after to take the scoreline out to 22-12. The Dukes were determined not to let the game get out of hand and some nice ball running got centre Nathan Tui over the line, followed by a tremendous run by second rower Chris Stephenson who blasted his way over the line for a much deserved try. Conversion successful and the Dukes have clawed back the score to 24-22.

Man of the Match Chris Stephenson barges over for a try

Engadine ended up with the ball in hand and pushing towards the Dukes 22m with solid forward play. When the ball was spun out to the backs, they attempted another chip and chase but was read perfectly by Stefan von Zelewski who charged down and caught the ball in one motion then darted away and (only just) made it over the line after a 65m sprint, Dukes back in front 31-22 with 15 minutes left. The Lions weren’t done yet and let it be known, hitting back with another try to bring the score to 31-29.

Flyhalf and Captain Stefan von Zelewski on his 65m dash

4 minutes left on the clock and the scores level, Engadine with the ball in hand marched downfield for 10+ phases before sneaking in in the corner to give them the lead 34-31 with the seconds ticking away. That close to victory and the Dukes had it snatched away from them in the final minutes…or so it would seem.

Captain Stefan von Zelewski together with Dukes veterans Reece Milne, Doug Cusack and Chris Stephenson rallied the boys together, letting them know that this game was far from out of hand and all they needed was the ball in hand to make it happen. A minute left on the clock and the Dukes defending the lineout on the Engadine 22m, the Lions gave up a free kick which the Dukes were more than happy to capitalise on.

Liam Pakau’s 5 pointer that clinched victory for the Dukes

Maintaining possession for 5 phases, holding the ball in close in the forwards but unable to get over the line, the ball found Dukes debutant Liam Pakau who together with some nifty footwork and power running dotted the ball over the line from 5m out. Conversion taken, successful, and the whistle blown for full time. The Dukes finally shaking the monkey off the back after a long 18 months without a competition win.

Coaches points went to;
3 – Chris Stephenson (Second Row)
2 – Doug Cusack (Flanker)
1 – Israel Seufale (No. 8)

That winning feeling…

A special mention to Dukes on debut – Liam Pakau, Timothy Rolton and Sefa Joey who all played tremendously to help the cause on the day with some big hits, big runs and a nose for the try line.

Other games this round saw Burraneer too strong for North Cronulla 44-5 and Maccabi winning at home 35-12 over the Convicts.

This week the Subbies competition has a bye week, but that doesn’t mean the action stops! The Dukes and Duchesses are putting on a royalty themed pub crawl (link here). Feel free to come along for a great day with some of the best drinkers in suburban sports!