QUINS RIDE EARLY BLITZ TO OVER-RUN BULLS
Hobart Harlequins have climbed from fourth place to the Tasmanian Rugby grand final with a wholehearted 29-21 victory over Devonport Bulls on Saturday. Quins took hold of the match early, leading 19-0 at the break in perfect conditions in the presence of a good crowd at Devonport. Quins will now play the Taroona Penguins in the grand final to be played on Saturaday 8 September at 2.30pm at Rugby Park.
The home side pulled out some great rugby to close to 26-21 with 15 minutes to go but conceded penalties in attempting to apply pressure. A late shot posted the telling margin, although the Bulls spilt the ball over the line in the final play, typifying a day in which they fell short but never gave up.
Beau Scott scored the Quins first try after 15 minutes, following desperate defence by Bulls Shaun Puke and Luke Johnson. Connor Mack missed a penalty shot from a rare Devonport excursion down the slope, but more damaging were regular midfield busts by Quins centres Sid Fielea and Jamon Starcovic. Quins began pressuring the Bulls from midfield phases and scored when the defence over-read near the posts and allowed Fale Atileo to cross unopposed and extend the lead to 14-0.
Sid Fielea compounded the Bulls woes when he crashed over in the right corner shortly before half-time, although Dave McGinley and a bloodied Connor Mack launched courageous counters to complete the session.
The second half saw more consistent pressure from Devonport, who were rewarded with territory and penalties. The Bulls escaped their defensive zone through breaks by Puke and Johann Joubert and capitalised when a poor clearance fell for the mobile Puke to cross out wide. Mack’s conversion gave them some hope, but indecision at the kick-off pinned the Bulls in their quarter. They escaped but Quins countered through a great 80 metre rush from Sid Fielea, Dave Woulemann and Dylan Oakford to set the next phase for Starcovic to cross near the posts.
Devonport pressured from the kick-off and were rewarded by a brutal charging try from Mark Meo next to the posts. He repeated the effort by busting through a maul several minutes later and running in from 35 metres, the conversions closing the gap to five points.
Harlequins rallied and the sustained pressure resulted in some enormous hits, occasional rushed kicking, counter-attack and late hits from both sides. Quins got into the Bulls quarter to secure the final successful shot and then held their line until the whistle.
Winning coach Colin Fielea was measured about the result, attributing the win to doing the hard yards in the first half and dealing with the inevitable Bulls comeback. He was concerned by the penalty count but said all the Quins had played their part.
The disappointed Devonport camp conceded their best wasn’t good enough on the day and admitted to being disrupted by injuries in the lead-up, but proud of a sound season by a youthful squad.
Harlequins 29 (B.Scott, F.Atileo, S.Fielea, J.Starcovic tries; D.Wouleman penalty, 3 conversions) def Devonport 21 (M.Meo 2, S.Puke tries; C.Mack 3 conversions).