Taroona will contest the TRU Premiership decider on home turf after a standout performance from fullback Ollie Bird inspired the Penguins’ 42-22 win over Devonport in Saturday’s preliminary final.
The Penguins opened the scoring after just five minutes through veteran lock James Holman and were never headed with outside backs Bird, George-Chaperon Tucker and Ish Duindam wreaking havoc throughout the afternoon.
Chaperon-Tucker’s first-half double wiped Courtney Harris 10th minute equaliser to hand Taroona a 21-5 halftime advantage and the margin stretched further when Bird sprinted 50 metres to score under the sticks just four minutes into the second term.
The Bulls' faithful found their voice when lock Oliver Crawford barged over from close range in the 48th minute to but the buffer was quickly reinstated when Duindam backed up a Jordan Eddington break to put Taroona ahead 35-12 with 25 minutes to play.
Devonport had their opportunities in the final quarter with Enzo Banducci sent to the bin for repeated infringements but took too long to capitalise, only scoring through Ilisoni Tavalagi in the final act of their one-man advantage.
Trailing 35-17 with 10 minutes to play, the Bulls needed a miracle and the Penguins delivered the opposite with a dummying Fine Taue scoring from 30 metres out to put the result beyond doubt .
A Tavalagi consolation try proved the game’s final scoring act, though Bulls playmaker Hudson Connell-Kelly produced a final highlight by ankle-tapping Chaperon-Tucker to deny the Penguins’ flyer a late hat-trick.
TRU lead commentator Deon Scanlon said Taroona would take plenty away from a tough preliminary final ahead of this weekend’s grand final rematch against Launceston.
“It was a pretty big margin but not overly convincing from the Penguins in the latter half of the match and the Bulls were valiant in defeat,” Scanlon said in commentary.
“I think Penguins need to go to the drawing board … the lineouts were poor and so too their discipline with a lot of penalties at the breakdown so there’s still some work to do.”