The Dukes took home their first piece of silverware this weekend after a tightly fought contest against Rouse Hill 33-31. The preseason match, played for the Indiana Challenge Cup, was contested in considerably tough conditions with the heat and humidity really showing through on the day.
Not deterred by the superior player numbers on show by the opposition, the Dukes rallied together from the get go. While the boys were relatively physically fit (many thanks to Sarah from Pure Performance Coach for helping whip the boys into a shape that didn’t resemble a slob that hadn’t even thought of Rugby for 2019), match fitness can be an entirely new beast to tame, especially on a day where heat is a factor.
After the cobwebs were shaken out, the Dukes started to hit it into gear, showing some great hits, skillful offloads and tricky footwork on the way to bagging 5 tries in the 80 minute hit out. The set pieces for the Dukes looked fantastic with a solid scrum base and some nice work at line out time, giving the halves time and space to work their magic.
The game itself was very back and forth with both teams being able to score tries in reply to the other. With 5 minutes left, the scores even at 26-26, fly half Stefan von Zelewski took matters into his own hands, blasting through the opposition line and stepping the fullback to score under the sticks the converted his own try to top it all off. 33-26 in favour of the Dukes.
From the ensuing kick off, the Dukes lost possession and with the Renegades inside the attacking 22, the Renegades fly half threw a half field pass to their right winger, who despite having debuting lock Jackson Corry wrapped around his waist was (only just) able to dot the ball down in the corner. 33-31 still on the side of the Dukes.
The Renegades missed the conversion attempt and that’s the way the scoreline stayed until the referee blew full time a very short time later. A well deserved win for all the preseason work put in, with the Dukes taking out the Indianna Challenge Cup for 2019.
Also, many thanks must be given to the Renegades for being amazing hosts for the day and (as announced by the Renegades Facebook page) raising over $11k in donations for the Westmead Childrens Hospital.