The Dukes fielded 3 official grades for the first time in club history and, while not all grades were able to get a win, it was a raving success with all 3 grades fielding extremely strong sides across the park.
3rds started the day off in Canterbury and looked hot from the get go. Lead by captain Neil Ilett, the Dukes forwards held their own against a seasoned Canterbury pack and got some good go forward being directed by the little general at halfback Josh Wilson to allow the backs room to move the ball around. The first try for the season almost came from a barnstorming run by Jay Faamusili only top be cut down meters short of the line. It did however come minutes later from old boy Aaron Nunn hanging on his familiar left wing, darting for the corner and “diving” to put the ball down. Some great broken field running from Michael Smith in the backs allowed Daniel Keogh to make good on a line break and put the ball down under the posts. Solomon Tomokino settled into the fly half spot beautifully with some timely kicks, attacking runs and big hits.
The tired 3rds let their guard down slightly, allowing Canterbury to get back into the game and tying it at 12-all. 35 meters out from the line and the clock ticking away, the Dukes earned a penalty right in front of the sticks. With captain Neil Ilett off the field, acting captain Josh Wilson opted for the kick at goal to attempt to win the game. Josh nailed the kick and split the uprights, 3rds winning 15-12 in the buzzer.
Following on from the 3rds win, 2nds took the field back in Botany against the Convicts. The boys were fired up from the get go with captain John Segi leading from the front on the way to a 14 try trouncing of the opposition. A 3 try haul to fly half Hosea Leura making his return to Dukes colours, as well as a double each to Jacob Tatupu, Jermaine Mati-Leifi, Puna Fotu and 2nds man of the match Silipa Mu. Final score 85-0 by way of the Dukes, with a big statement made to the rest of the Grose Cup teams.
1sts were stuck in an arm wrestle for their match, both with the Convicts and with the laws of the game. Early in the match, the Convicts used a rolling maul to get on top of the Dukes, a lead they would not give up for the duration of the 80 minutes. A poor disciplinary record with more than a scant few penalties for the day saw the Dukes 1sts down to 14 men for a quarter of the match as well as giving up a penalty try. A big game from Shondre De Silva at fullback (who earned MOTM honours), coupled with the bustling forward runs of Saupo Aigamaua and Pelili Tito kept the Dukes in the game despite the issues noted.
In the final minute, the Dukes had the chance to make good on the comeback however fell just short, turning the ball over on a penalty and the Convicts 10 put the ball into touch, granting them the win.
In all, a great day for the Dukes with solid games from all 60 plus players who pulled on the black and white and something for the club to grow on for the rest of 2020 and into the future seasons. Next week (25/07) 3rds take on Colleagues at Woollahra Oval #2 in Rose Bay at 11am while 2nds and 1sts look to take away the competition points from Sydney Irish at Latham Park in Maroubra from 2pm.