Australia Universities 46 – 18 England Universities

Friday 14th July, 1pm, Windsor Stadium, Sydney – Student Rugby League World Cup

With star winger Jamie Anderson scoring a hat trick of tries, the Australians took their chances in key moments to qualify for Sunday’s decider in a match that was a lot closer than the final scores indicated.

After the English held the early advantage on the back of some early penalties without a result, Australia constructed a neat attack down the right side in the 10th minute for Jamie Anderson to score the opening try.

Anderson however, was hit in a high tackle by English fullback, Jacob Morgan while scoring the try, and referee, Ethan Mitcham ruled a penalty after awarding the four-pointer, giving the Australians a possible eight point try. Mick O’Keefe however, missed the conversion but landed the penalty from in front of the posts, to give the Australians a 6-nil lead.

Australian centre Mick Pearsall was penalised for being in front of the kicker when crossing to score a try in the 18th minute, and England worked play upfield from the penalty to send play down the right side for five-eighth, James Woodburn-Hall to score in the corner. Ben Stead converted from touch to level scores at 6-all.

In a tight and tough first half, England earned a penalty in the 28th minute for a flop tackle against Australian forward, Harry Pondekas, but Stead hooked the 30 metre penalty attempt out to the right.

After regaining possession, Australia worked play into position for fullback, Jarrod Lee to send Jack Peoples away to score under the posts, for a 12-6 lead with O’Keefe’s conversion. Then, just three minutes from half time, on the back of a repeat set from a goal line drop out, the Australians worked play down the short right side for Mick Pearsall to score wide out, for a 16-6 Australian lead.

Almost on the stroke of half time, a Giovanni Rapana break up the middle was finished off by Anderson to streak away for his second try under the posts with O’Keefe converting to give Australia a handy 22-6 lead at the break.

England came out with more purpose to start the second half and established great field position for interchange hooker, Lewis Lord to burrow over, from close range out of acting half, bringing the score back to 22-12 after Stead added the extras.  However, an English turnover in possession then allowed Australia to set up for Pondekas to burst over wide out on the right to score.  O’Keefe converted to extend the lead to 28-12.

England’s main opportunity to launch a comeback was lost when bench forward, James Mason lost the ball over the goal line with a try on, in the 59th minute. The Australians made the English pay when on their next set, a loose pass, was swooped upon by speedy winger David Sheridan who bolted 55 metres to score the back breaking try.  O’Keefe converted to put the Australians out of sight at 34-12.

The English never gave up trying, and after a cross field kick was dropped by winger, Brad Kislingbury with 12 minutes left, they were rewarded for their endeavour when Lord got out of acting half on their next attacking set, to send centre, Jason Bass on a determined 60 metre burst to score. Stead converted to bring the score back to 34-18.

The Australians were not yet finished, however. Lee finished off a sweeping attack under the posts with seven minutes to play, Anderson fielded a right sided cross field kick to complete his hat trick, and O’Keefe converted both tries to complete the 46-18 triumph.

Australia Universities: Jarrod Lee, Davd Sherdian, Mick Pearsall, Jamie Anderson, Mick O’Keefe, Mackenzie Reid, Giovanni Rapana, Chris Ostwald, Sam Gee, David Faunuku, Harry Pondekas, Jack Peoples, Ryan Cameron. Subs: Keely Benson, Saeed Annewetey, Robert Tuliatu, Savern Rapana.  TRIES: Jamie Anderson (10, 39, 78), Jack Peoples (30), Mick Pearsall (37), Harry Pondekas (48), David Sheridan (65), Jarrod Lee (73).  GOALS: Mick O’Keefe 7/9

England Universities: Jacob Morgan, Brad Kislingbury, Jason Bass, Zack McComb, Elliot Hall, James Woodburn-Hall, Kieran Smith, Matt Ross, Sam Druce, Aaron Hall, Kieran Sherratt, Dom Bryan, Jack Lazenby. Subs: Harry Kidd, Josh Hamilton, Lewis Lord, James Mason.  TRIES: James Woodburn-Hall (18), Lewis Lord (44), Jason Bass (70)  GOALS: Ben Stead 3/4