Leichhardt Oval, deep in Tigers territory, was the venue for the 2016 Tertiary Student Grand Final Day on Saturday 9 September.
It was an action packed day with the boys sharing the programme with the girls; the Womens Sydney Metropolitan grand finals held in conjunction with the Tertiary finals.
The Tafe Western Sydney Polecats topped off a great year for the club under its new Tafe affiliation with both its sides making it to the big dance in Divisions 1 & 2. However, the football gods were not in the Polecats corner, going down in both grades.
After dominating the first division comp. for most of the season, the Polecats, who earned the Minor Premiership title, struggled to get over a UTS Tigers side that had slowly been gaining momentum during the year and kept its best for the grand final, winning 24-16.
As is always the case between these two clubs the opening stanza was a rugged affair and with both sides conceding a number of penalties each and neither were able to get into any rhythm.
It was the Polecats that eventually drew first blood when winger Jarek Fuavaa crossed in the corner at the 15th minute and they held a 4-0 lead for the next 10 minutes until Tigers back rower Lee Johnston crashed over under the posts. An easy Luke Johnston conversion put the Tigers in front 6-4.
Shortly after the Polecats gave a demonstration of its respect for the Tigers defence by opting for a kick when awarded a penalty near the Tigers posts, with a John Norford goal levelling the score 6 all.
It looked like the score would remain level at half time until right on the hooter when a Tigers sweeping back line play put winger David Rahim over in the corner. A sideline conversion by Luke Johnston gave the Tigers a very handy 12-6 lead at the break.
The second half started much the same as the first, with neither side giving much ground until at the 14th minute when Tigers Lee Johnston burst through the Polecats defence to score his second try of the match. An easy conversion by Luke Johnston and suddenly the Tigers looked to have control ahead 18-6.
However, the Polecats were not ready to throw the towel in just yet and with 12 minutes left on the clock they slowly started to get the upper hand until only metres out from the Tigers line and looking likely to score, Tigers half back Michael Zappia intercepted the ball to run 90 metres to score at the other end of the field. Another side line conversion from Lee Johnston and the Tigers held a commanding 24-6 lead.
Two late tries to the Polecats gave their score a little more respectability but the Tigers never looked in doubt after the Zappia try.
The second division match pitted Minor Premiers the Uni of Canberra Grizzlies against the Polecats in a match that was very even right up until the last 20 minutes, when the Grizzlies took control running out eventual winners 38-14.
The Grizzlies had been undefeated in the regular season but suffered an unexpected defeat in its Major Semi Final to the Polecats and the way the Polecats started the match it looked like the Grizzlies might be in for a repeat dose. Each side scored tit for tat until the final quarter, but it was the Grizzlies superior kicking game and the Polecats inability to handle the rampaging Grizzlies front rower Seamus Leyland, that eventually allowed the Canberra boys to take full control.
Division 1 Grand Final
UTS 24 (Tries: Lee Johnston 2, David Rahim, Michael Zappia, Goals: Luke Johnston 4) bt Tafe WS 16 (Tries: Jarek Fuavaa 2, Shane Brown, Goals: John Norford 2)
Man of the Match: Julio Toledo
Division 2 Grand Final
Uni of Canberra 38 (Tries: Will Gooch, Joel Kitcher, Cody Simmonds, Adam Cavanagh, Kyle Troth, Andy Tull, Seamus Leyland, Goals: Lincoln Blissett 4, Kyle Troth) bt Tafe WS 14 (Tries: Josh Kabbboura, Peter Jennson, Peter Ngaluafe, Goal: Sean Prior)
Man of the Match: Seamus Leyland
2016 Competition Awards
Club Champions: Tafe WS
Most Outstanding Player:
Division 1 – Troy Errington (UTS)
Division 2 – Seamus Leyland (Uni Canberra)
Highest Point Scorer:
Division 1 – Sean Prior (Tafe WS)
Division 2 – Lincoln Blissett (Uni Canberra)