South Darwin’s quest for a fifth Premiership remains firmly on track after defeating University 24-15 in a spirited match at Rugby Park last night.
The Pirates were on the front foot early and Shaun Wauchope almost scored in the opening minutes but spilled the ball five metres out.
At the ten minute mark a deft run by Liam Walker resulted in a try which was converted by Robert Butcher.
Souths made numerous line breaks to take play into the Pirates end of the field but a combination of desperate defence and clumsy handling kept the Rabbitohs scoreless until the 25th minute when lock Colin McCaul barged over.
Keegan Neale’s conversion levelled the score at 7-all
Souths took the lead two minutes before the break when Thomas Hiramatsu took the ball from a line out and sprinted 25 metres to score.
Hiramatsu has played on the wing all season but was moved to flanker last night to accommodate the return of Tim Atkinson to the side.
Neale converted and then Butcher landed a penalty goal on the last play of the half for University to trail 14-10.
Neale took the lead back out to seven with a penalty goal early in the second half and the professional foul by Wise Sekitoga resulted in ten minutes in the sin bin.
Hiramatsu relishing being closer to the ball darted 25 metres to score the Rabbitohs third try.
Shortly after Hiramatsu went from hero to villain when he too went to the bin for a professional foul.
The score didn’t change despite the imbalance of numbers the bunnies defended their line for the entire period.
Shaun Wauchope gave the Pirates a glimmer of hope with a try seven minutes from time.
Souths will be delighted with performance of Henry Berns in the centre whose impact is becoming greater each week as his fitness improves since returning from injury mid-season.
Kosta Elenis had a rousing game in the front row for the Pirates.
With three losses to both Souths and Casuarina this season it is difficult to envisage University turning the tables on either side during the finals series which starts next week.
Casuarina finished the regular season undefeated following a 43-0 victory over Palmerston after leading 19-0 at half time.
Tries to Vito Di Mauro and Simaika Salaa in the first five minutes of the game suggested the Cougars might inflict an embarrassing defeat on the Crocs.
However when Palmerston did get into their rhythm it then took Casuarina another 28 minutes to score their third by way of Di Mauro.
The Cougars four second half tries were evenly spaced with two to Joe Albert and two more to Salaa.
Darwin Dragons finished the season on a positive note with a 62-14 victory after leading 35-7 at half time.
The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of NT Rugby.