Vikings centre Paulo Falevai unloads under pressure from the Shamrocks’ defence in their clash at Ocean Park on Saturday. The Rocks scored a try on the bell to beat the Blueys 32-31.Picture: GREG TOTMANThey did it the hard way but University clinched third spot with Saturday’s season-ending 22-8 road win over Camden.
After building a 12-8 half-time lead, the Mallee Bulls did enough in the second half to claim their 10th victory and book a qualifying semi-final clash with neighbours Tech Waratahs this Saturday.
“We made hard work of it,” Bulls coach Shaun McCreedy said.
“Camden played well and it was what we expected because they had nothing riding on it. They had a lot of ball and put us under pressure. It was a physical hitout and it was definitely what we needed going into our game against Tech next week.”
For a team that was not even assured of a top five spot less than a month ago, Uni rose above some of their more fancied rivals to clinch third.
“We sat down five or six weeks and set a goal to finish third. We’ve achieved that and now we’ll take it from there,” McCreedy said.
“It’s given the boys a lot of confidence going into the semis. They know they can give it a good shot.
“We’re happy with where we are, but we’re not satisfied to be in third. We feel we’ve got a lot to offer in the semis.
“We’ll be able to make it hard for Tech next week. In saying that, we know we’ll have to be on top of our game to get the result.”
Meanwhile, Shamrocks scored a match-winning try in the final minute to secure a tense 32-31 win over long-time rivals Vikings at Ocean Park.
The Rocks had three players in the sin-bin at one stage and had to come from behind to beat the Blueys.
“We were running around with 12 players for a while and we also had five players injured, so it was a pretty gutsy effort from the boys,” Shammies co-coach Dion Miller said. “Both teams scored some really good tries.
“It was really tight and it was a good, typical Shamrocks versus Vikings game.”
Miller praised performances of players called in to cover his injured regulars.
“Our second grade has a lot of injuries as well and our depth had been depleted, but some of the kids really stepped up for us,” he said.
“We’re looking forward to the semis.
“Hopefully our five injured guys are right, but either way we’ll give it our best shot.”
Shoalhaven finished fifth with a 93-0 mauling of Bowral and will take on the Rocks in this Sunday’s elimination semi-final.
Minor premiers Avondale tuned up for the playoffs with a 71-13 thrashing of Kiama.
Final standings: Avondale 75, Tech Waratahs 63, University 51, Shamrocks 48, Shoalhaven 47, Vikings 38, Camden 28, Kiama 24 and Bowral 2.
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