TRU Semi Finals Wrap: Tigers book GF berth, Bulls scrape past Burnie

Mon, Aug 28, 2023, 4:30 AM
TAS Rugby
by TAS Rugby
230826 - TRU major semi final - Launceston v Taroona highlights

Launceston will contest next week’s TRU Premiership decider after a flying finish saw them topple Taroona 36-24 in Saturday’s major semi-final.

With just 10 minutes remaining and the scores locked at 24-all, Tigers standout Marika Nadaulevu broke the game open with a scything run to set up halfback TJ Pieters under the posts before scoring his second try on the full-time hooter to ice the result.

The flanker was among Launceston’s best with fullback Leone Vonoyauyau also terrorising Taroona’s defence in front of a vocal Royal Park crowd.

However, the Penguins will take heart from a fierce contest that saw them claw back a 19-7 halftime deficit after early tries to Nadaulevu, Vonoyauyau and Josua Vuto tempered Louis Thomas’ close-range score.

Skipper Ant Lean impressed in the second stanza while try-scorers Aiden Fenney, Enzo Balducci and goal-kicker Noah Kazarine kept Taroona in the fight before Nadaulevu’s late surge took the game away.

Grand Final ticket booked for the Tigers after a 36-24 victory over Taroona! Massive result with the boys now getting a...

Posted by Launceston Rugby Club on Sunday, August 27, 2023

“I didn’t think we played too badly, our forwards did a tremendous job and our fight to stay in the game was really good but our defence just let us down at the end,” Taroona co-coach Christo Le Grange said.

“We know defence wins finals – they did it well and we didn’t on the day – so we’ll work on shoring up our defence, going back to our pick and drive and not pushing those extra passes or trying too hard.”

Meanwhile, Devonport will tackle Taroona in this week’s preliminary final after a last-gasp penalty goal saw the Bulls home 29-27 in their minor semi-final showdown with Burnie.

The lead changed five times across 79 pulsating minutes before Luke Bryan kicked the match-winning penalty goal with 40 seconds remaining to break Emu hearts and celebrate Courtney Harris' 200th game in style.

Congratulations Fui on playing 200 games in a cracking win at home yesterday! The Bulls take on Taroona on Saturday 2nd Sept in Hobart to fight for a spot in the Grand Final. 💚🖤

Posted by Devonport Bulls Rugby Union Club on Saturday, August 26, 2023

It capped a stellar afternoon for Bryan, who earlier scored a try and kicked three conversions with Hudson Connell-Kelly, Eliki Bativudi and Oliver Crawford also crossing for the Bulls.

Sione Lihau, Samisoni Hufanga and Wilfred Sandy made up the Emus’ try scorers with Burnie kicker Peni Vae having a mixed afternoon from the tee.

“It was very frustrating from my perspective on the sideline because we defended for so much of the game and didn’t starve them of possession,” Burnie coach Brett Bentley said.

“I felt like we could’ve won by 30 points if we’d kicked our goals, stuck to our pick and drive, and not kicked away the ball or gone too wide too early...but I’m still proud of what the club’s achieved this year, both this team and as a whole."

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