Fast-finishing Burnside topple Tigers in Premier Grade decider

Sat, Sep 16, 2023, 10:00 AM
Rugby Union SA
by Rugby Union SA

Burnside are 2023 RUSA Premier Grade champions after clinching a 43-21 grand final victory over Brighton.

Despite trailing 21-17 just after halftime, the Double Blues surged late with four second-half tries while keeping the Tigers scoreless for the final 37 minutes.

"It was a hot day and everyone was fatigued but we knew the tale of the game was going to be straight after that break," Burnside skipper Edward Wilkes said.

"We wanted to turn the pressure up on Brighton in that second half and we know what we can do on the front foot, so when they got the first points back, we just wrote that off and went again."

The final score was a far-cry from the see-sawing first half that saw Brighton burst out of the blocks at AA Bailey Reserve.

The tussle between Burnside Rugby Club and Brighton Rugby Union Football Club continues with Burnside taking out the 2023 Premier Grade Grand Final 43-21 🏆

Posted by Rugby Union South Australia on Saturday, September 16, 2023

The Tigers took a 7-0 lead after just 7 minutes through Rhys Fishwick, who barged over from close range with Nathan McPherson nailing the conversion.

But the lead was short-lived with an overthrown lineout finding Nichel Lam Sam, who beat three defenders before offloading to an unmarked Samuela Tanaki for the simplest of run-in tries.

Burnside doubled down their efforts in the 20th minute through Isaac Allum Henson, who showed great pace to dot down in the far-left corner after some slick hands.

And when Fraser Green crossed five minutes later, the Tigers found themselves down 17-7 and short of answers.

Through the Lens 📸 Premier Grade GF 2023 Burnside Rugby Club 43 def Brighton Rugby Union Football Club 21 Photos by Rugby Australia

Posted by Rugby Union South Australia on Saturday, September 16, 2023

Patience proved the key as Brighton marched their way back upfield, building nine phases enroute to Jaden Phillips' try in the 35th minute and did so again for Sam Glancy's opportunistic snipe to retake the lead after halftime.

Yet that's where Brighton's patience ended with Burnside adopting the mentality to great success.

Tanaki's second try from a well-directed maul put the Double Blues back ahead 24-21 following Freeman Eder's conversion and the margin even further when Luke Sikalu unleashed Fraser Green down the left touchline for Burnside's fourth of the afternoon.

From there, it was a Double Blue procession with Manu Vi and Nichel Lam Sam crossing late to blow out the scoreline.