Off to the Big Dance! Your Week 2 RUSA Finals Review

Mon, Sep 11, 2023, 2:00 AM
Rugby Union SA
by Rugby Union SA

Reigning title holders Brighton will face Burnside in a mirror image of last year’s decider after the Tigers toppled Southern Suburbs in Saturday's Premier Grade preliminary final.

Meanwhile Woodville are primed to tackle Souths in the women’s grand final after smashing Adelaide University while Barossa and Brighton earned their place in the big dance for Reserves and Thirds respectively.

Here's how Week 2 of the senior RUSA finals panned out:

Premier Grade

Brighton’s 36-27 victory over Souths earned the Tigers yet another grand final berth with the Bulls left to rue what might have been a home advantage in this weekend’s decider.

Winger Aaron Coleman struck first for Brighton, busting through three tackles and barrelling over in the far-left corner to ice a 7th minute turnover inside Souths’ 22.

But the Bulls wasted little time hitting back with Dulanka Gunasekara intercepting a loose Rhys Fishwick pass to streak away untouched just a minute later, Save Ronavuso converting for a 7-5 advantage.

Tigers fullback Jordan Craig was next to light up Tregenza Oval, slicing through Souths’ defence to unleash Coleman down the left touchline for a second try and when Suliano Mainavolau barged over beside the sticks in the 18th minute, Brighton held a comfortable 17-7 lead.

But the buffer didn’t hold for long, first chipped by a 25th minute Ronavuso penalty before nine patient phases inside Tigers’ territory led to Gunasekara’s opportunistic equaliser under the crossbar.

With the scores locked 17-all, Brighton looked to their pack for go-forward and Nicholas Simpson obliged, driving over from close range to reinstate the Tigers’ lead at 22-17 after 34 minutes.

Souths had their chances late with two missed penalties and could have been well up if not for a late Craig try-saver on Sam Rowe in the shadows of halftime.

And it was Craig who doubled their advantage in the second term, finishing off a lovely chip and chase sequence sparked by Absalom Bayam to put the Tigers ahead 29-17 in the 51st minute.

With the clock ticking down, Souths needed to score next and Ronavuso delivered, first with a tackle-shedding try in the far-left corner and then an opportunistic kick-through and pick-up from 70 metres out to send the Bulls crowd into raptures.

But with Luke Grebenshikoff’s conversion attempt sailing wide, Brighton still held a two-point lead and almost extended through a thundering Lewis Boyle in the 71st minute, the centre losing control just inches from the chalk.

From there the Tigers set up shop in Bulls territory, turning the screws at scrum time and forcing Souths into successive penalties before the eventual sin-binning of Koare Matiaha.

Down to 14 men, the Souths defence eventually cracked with Selwyn Nunu finishing off a slick backline move six minutes from time, Brighton holding on for a nine-point win.

Women's Competition

Woodville will get a shot at revenge against Souths after outclassing Adelaide University 40-17 in Saturday's preliminary final.

Three second-half tries flattered the students with Wasps earlier opening up a comfortable lead through the Vuata girls and an impressive Victoria Cousins.

Reserve Grade

Barossa ended Brighton's season in style, running out 29-7 victors to crush the minor premiers' dreams.

Aminasi Vutulevu again stood tall for the Rams with two tries while Lachlan Wylie's 9-point haul proved crucial off the tee.

Third Grade

The Tigers however will get their shot at Third Grade revenge after thumping Burnside 50-19 in their preliminary final.

Robert Ferguson's four-try haul was the standout as Brighton Gold booked a rematch with the impressive Rams this Saturday.