RUSA Round 1 Wrap: Souths shine, Rams' winning return to Premier Grade

Tue, Apr 9, 2024, 4:30 AM
Lachlan Grey
by Lachlan Grey

Southern Suburbs opened their 2024 account in emphatic fashion while Brighton, Barossa, Woodville and Burnside also bagged maximum points from Round 1 of the RUSA men’s Premier Grade. 

Souths winger Tilly Bici and number eight Sanaila Rokonai scored two tries apiece in a 44-12 win over Adelaide Uni with fullback Taniela Lalakubau a standout performer in red and green.

Bici needed just 50 seconds to score Souths’ first try down the left touchline following a Sam Rowe line break and had his double shortly after the 10-minute mark, scoring from the restart following Rokonai’s close-range try in the ninth minute.

An Axel Sonnenberg try saver on Ben Gilmore briefly halted Souths’ momentum but the heat on Uni intensified when Rafe Liebers saw yellow in the 25th minute, leaving Lalakubau unmarked from the ensuing scrum penalty to secure the Bulls’ fourth try and an early bonus point.

Half-breaks from Will Smith and Ben Thomas sparked Uni to life after the half-hour mark and the visitors were eventually rewarded when Timothy Cooper crashed over in the 32nd minute, though there was little respite as Lalakubau and Rokonai combined for Souths’ fifth try just before oranges.

Trailing 27-5 at the break, Uni needed a breakthrough and had plenty of chances with Stevan Stanojevic (43rd minute) and Harry Ashby (54th minute) yellow carded early in the term.

Souths, however, had other ideas with flyer Isoa Ronavuso finding a soft shoulder in the 50th minute and hooker Felix Tappouras scoring acrobatically from a lineout trick play to put the hosts ahead 37-5 with 17 minutes remaining.

Further try savers to Sonnenberg and Uni flyhalf Kayle Connor kept the Bulls at bay before Saimoni Saukuru found space down the left touchline for Souths’ eighth of the afternoon.

A few shots as Souths Women began their title defence with a close round one win against Adelaide University. 💚❤️

Posted by Souths Rugby Union on Monday, April 8, 2024

Sonnenberg crossed late for a well-deserved Uni consolation try, Souths emerging 32-point victors.

Elsewhere, Brighton duo Jaden Phillips and Piers Deignan bagged braces in the Tigers’ 59-12 win over Onkaparinga while an Amininiasi Vutulevu double helped Barossa home 25-12 over Elizabeth in the Rams’ return to Premier Grade.

Over at Burnside, Nichel Lam Sam’s two-try effort was key to the defending premier’s 30-26 win over Old Collegians before Woodville banked an early win on the road, defeating Port Adelaide 29-19 at Riverside Oval.

In the women’s competition, reigning champions Souths survived a Uni ambush to come out 28-27 winners while 2023 grand finalists Wasps and Burnside posted early bonus point wins.

Though the students outscored Souths five tries to four, Emma Yates’ unerring boot proved the difference in a one-point thriller at AA Bailey Reserve.

Barossa lead the men’s Reserve Grade ladder after Round 1 with Souths, Brighton, Old Colls and Woodville all banking wins.

In the opening round of men's Third Grade, Brighton Gold, Souths, Burnside and North Torrens claimed full points.