Dukes fall just short against Lions

While the scoreboard may not have shown a Dukes win, the boys put together one of their better performances of the year on a windy and chilly Saturday afternoon, going down narrowly to Engadine 29-21.

The long trip south to Engadine to take on the Lions was always going to be a tough affair on the pitch yet true to Dukes form, the boys showed up ready to play from the get go. The forwards were evenly matched in the scrums with neither team giving an inch, however on a windy day, lineout play was always going to be difficult. Despite this, James Schulz was clinical, stealing at least 3 of the opposition’s throws. In general play both teams, again, were evenly matched. The Lions had their Fijian flair out wide, but was not to be outdone by captain and fullback Stefan von Zelewski’s hard running lines and swerving runs as well as scrumhalf Reece Milne’s darting, precise plays around the ruck and from quick taps.

The match started very evenly, Engadine able to break the Dukes line after a charged down kick landed directly into the hands of their loose forward who quickly found their winger to dot it over in the corner. 5-0 on a tough day for kicking. From the kick off the Dukes wrestled the ball back and were able to win possession and a penalty from 25m out and opted for the penalty shot. The ball taking a coat of paint off the post and an unlucky miss on a gusty day that even the most experienced and high level kickers would have had trouble.

After the drop out, Engadine capitalised on a mistake from the Dukes, placing in a chip behind the line that saw them going over the line, followed up by another quick fire try saw the Lions up 17-0. With the Dukes on the back foot, flyhalf Luke Cleary slammed the ball down over the try line to bring the Dukes back within 10. On the stroke of half time with the Dukes pressing the Lions line, No. 8 Andrew Meiklejohn blasted his way over the line but was held up shy of being able to ground the ball. Half time blown by the referee, score at 17-7 to the Lions.

At half time the boys were fired up and keen to get it on again in the second half, knowing that the performance for the first 40 minutes was one to be proud of and that they wanted to build on. Coming out of the half the Lions struck against the run of play, their fullback able to make good on the break extending the Lions lead to 22-7.

A penalty to the Dukes saw the boys with ball in hand ready to attack inside the Lions half. From the lineout, another penalty for collapsing the maul coupled with the advantage from an offside call saw Reece Milne take a quick tap and dart through the opposition. Dragged down a metre short and attempting the recycle the ball, the Lions loose forward was seen to have used his hands in the ruck. The referee blew a penalty try and handed out a yellow business card to the eager Lion. 22-14 to the home side. Reece’s involvement in the game was not to end there however, a streaking run from the Lions outside centre saw him away for a 60m try, or so it would have seemed. In the far corner, Reece Milne timed his dive perfectly to knock the ball out of the players hands. Easily the play of the day defensively.

20 minutes to go in the game and the Lions and Dukes locked in a tight tussle at half way before a penalty against the Dukes saw the Lions able to attack the line. Keeping the ball in tight in the forwards they gained a penalty and took the quick tap. The Lions 9 linked with the nifty flyhalf who went over to push out the score to 29-14. The Dukes weren’t done yet, Reece Milne again having a say in the way the match was being played out, darting down the blind side to score his 6th try of the season.

Sadly, Dukes original Kevin Addison in his yearly cameo got caught in the wrong position in a tackle. What was initially thought to be a broken arm was found to be a very painful dislocated elbow. We wish Kev nothing but the best moving forward and unreservedly thank him for his efforts to help out the club where he can.

After the 10 minute break in play, the Dukes still had another 5 minutes to try drag out a win or at the very least a bonus point or two. Unfortunately, the boys were unable to crack the line and the Lions booted the ball into touch. Game over and the Dukes falling at the final few hurdles to lose out 29-21. The effort put in on the day was second-to-none. Only 16 players available on the day with various injuries and commitments outside of rugby saw the boys who were there out on their feet by the end of the 80 minutes. On another day, it may have been a reversed scoreline.

Looking at the rest of the competition – Burraneer were too much for the Sea Lice, putting on early tries and running out winners 28-19. In the other game, Maccabi pulled out a win over the Convicts 27-10.

Moving into this week’s match up, the Dukes will be taking on the Convicts. There will be 2 grades of action on the day with the first game kicking off at 2pm for Mango’s 100th game celebration. Straight afterwards, our 1st XV will be looking to avenge the previous 2 games against the Convicts and keep that glimmer of hope for finals football alive!