The Dukes had been on both the good and bad side of rugby on Saturday, and again had some more “firsts” for the club.
The day began with a massive amount of players – both new, current and old – taking the field early at Woollahra against Colleagues. The initial match was the game the Dukes wanted to win to earn point in the Halligan Cup (3rd Grade) standings. With a strong team across the field, the boys came together well with captain Neil Ilett and vice captain Josh Wilson taking the team from a bunch of blokes unknown to each other and bringing them into one unit. Tries for the game were earned by the wrecking ball that is Jay Faamausili who blasted his way through the Colleagues line before dotting the ball down, and Myles Taueli using his rare combination of speed, power, footwork and rugby smarts to score in his first game in club colours.
Other notable mentions for must go to;
David Tui who laid big claims to be moved up the grades with his insane footwork
Luke Thompson who lasted 30 seconds into the game before ending up with a badly swollen eye
Ted Ramea, Anthony Te Arri, Wysley Tuimauga and George Hicks (plus a few cans of New…) who all made their returns to the club
The amount of players that opted to play on Saturday meant only one thing for the club, the inaugural 4th grade game! While the game itself was extremely hard on the players as some were backing up almost immediately (thanks to the referee misunderstanding!), the Dukes put out a great showing and the club thanks all players who took the field on Saturday to make this possible.
The boys then rolled their way through the eastern suburbs and were on their way down to Maroubra as 2nds were gearing up to take on Sydney Irish. The boys jumped out to a quick lead and didn’t look back, heading into half time up 24-0 after tries from Keli Legutua, Saupo Aigamaua, Seli Pasi and senior member John Segi. From the kickoff, things started to go down hill. With the rain starting to come down, coupled with a broken tackle and a lazy attempt at a tackle, the Dukes had their first red card shown to them in the last 5 years as Daniel Mati-Leifi was sent from the field. Soon after, Ite Salima was held back at a ruck and was caught retaliating by the referee and was shown a red card as well.
Only then did the solid Dukes defense crack, giving up their first try with 13 men on the field. Again, a Dukes player was seeing red as Semi Aviata was sent from the field following one of his tackles. The Irish broke the Dukes line again, putting another try on the board, quickly followed by a penalty try. The 2nds held on to finish out the game with a bonus point win after the solid foundations laid by their strong first half. Best on field for 2nds was Martin Faita who’s strong defense and hard running helped the team immensely.
Moving on to a disjointed 1st grade side who was left reeling after some late pull outs. With the back up off the strong showing by 2nds, 1sts were bolstered by some of the young guns still looking for a game. The team, lead by Stefan von Zelewski did their absolute best in very trying conditions but were unable to crack the win column, going down 27-7. While the scoreline indicated a 20 point difference between the two squads, there is no doubt in the club’s mind that on another Saturday, the Dukes song would have been sung after 80 minutes of a hard game of rugby.
Puna Fotu played a very well rounded game with great open field runs at fullback and Saupo Aigamaua backing up for his 2nd straight game (both 1sts and 2nds) in 2 weeks! The big man playing tighthead prop played out of his skin in both games, earning coaches points for his efforts in both games. Special mention as well has to go to Keli Legutua who (to this point) is the only Duke to have played all FOUR grades.
This week the Dukes take on the Northern Saints (1st and 2nd grade) and UNSW (3rd grade) with all games at home, starting at 1.00 pm. Team lists and game times to follow shortly.