Photo: Barend Photo
The Melbourne University Royals will compete in Gridiron Victoria’s Vic Bowl XXXIII, the team’s first ever Division 1 championship game after defeating the Monash Warriors 24-13 in their semi-final on Saturday.
The win against the Warriors was the first in Royals history, who now face the undefeated Western Crusaders in the 2017 title decider.
The Warriors started the match well, taking a 13-0 lead early in the second quarter. After a costly turnover by the Royals, the Warriors looked to extend their lead getting deep into the red zone only to turn the ball over themselves on the 7-yard line. What followed was the start of a brilliant comeback by the Royals, a 93-yard drive capped off with a 13-yard touchdown pass from Dylan Letoga to Aidan Moriarty. The two-point conversion sent the teams into halftime at 13-8.
Monash started the second half with the ball but struggled to move the ball against a resolute Royals defence. On the Royals first drive of the half, Dylan Letoga combined with wide receiver Jacob Kerin on some pivotal plays to march the Royals down the field and take 15-13 lead.
The Royals continued to hold the Warriors offence at bay, winning the ball back with some great run defence. On the back of a 59-yard pass to Tokoa Tangatakino, the Royals converted a field goal to extend their lead to 18-13. The tight affair continued into the final quarter, with the Royals sealing the victory on the back of a 2-yard run from quarterback Letoga.
Head coach John Trana was ecstatic with the growth the Royals showed during his team’s semi-final performance in overcoming a 13-0 deficit.
“We never stopped supporting each other when things did not go in our favour. For the third week in a row, we have beaten a team for the first time in team history.”
Photos: Barend Photo, Barend van den Hoek