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By ARU Media Unit
Australian Rugby Union’s Brisbane-based National Academy side battled inclement weather in a physically demanding encounter to fall 24-17 to a strong Fiji A side in the second round of the IRB Pacific Rugby Cup game on Thursday night.
Despite the loss, the Brisbane Academy played with a level of professionalism that is instilled in the Academy Program, as players ranging in age from 17 to 23 got a sense of what is required at the elite level Coach Paul Carozza was proud of his team’s efforts and happy that they had the opportunity to play a more experienced side.
“We learnt that at this higher level you can get punished by teams when you make minor mistakes,” Carozza said.
“I think the effort was really there and we could have easily hung in there and won the game in those final minutes.”
The Brisbane Academy side displayed effective defence and only conceded one try in the first half, with the teams locked at 10-10 at half time.
Fiji A set up a challenging second half for the Academy side after scoring a corner try in the first minute, when they were able to capitalise on a brief lapse in defence.
The Fijian side showed good speed skills and made several attempts at runaway tries, but good defence and opportunism on a Fijian handling error saw the Academy team prevent a second try.
Minutes later, however, Fiji’s attack proved too strong for the Academy and scored under the posts to seal the Academy’s fate.
Lineouts were a strong point for the Academy side after their second try was scored from Tim Buchanan’s place in the lineout.
In a display of teamwork towards the end of the game, Centre Samu Kerevi began a run to the try line, starting a chain of passes along the backline. This final moment demonstrated the young side’s capabilities of producing exciting, professional Rugby.
The intensity of the game proved to be good experience for the young academy side, with Fiji A showing many unpredictable moves and speedy runs toward their try line.
The purpose of the Academy program is to present players with the opportunity to experience the high pressure and rewards of professional Rugby.
The Brisbane Academy will return to action this Tuesday at 6:00pm (local time) when they face Junior Japan, a game which Carozza would be another great test for his young side.
“The Academy is all part of being professional and we had a big chat about the importance of recovery and the need to be properly recovered in order to play well on Tuesday,” Carozza said.
Meanwhile, Australian Rugby Union’s Sydney-based National Academy side met Samoa A at TG Milner Oval in Eastwood, falling 33-24 to the visitors.
The Sydney Academy found themselves trailing early, facing a 13-7 deficit at half time following a single try to hooker Hugh Roach, but managed to take the lead in the 65th minute, 24-16, with tries to Will Meakes and Elijah Niko. David Horwitz kicked three conversions and a penalty for the home team.
Sydney coach Sean Hedger said the game provided the players with invaluable experience.
“It was a game that we could have won but we lacked a bit of game management,” Hedger said.
“For these young guys, this was a massive opportunity to showcase their talents against a stronger opposition than what they’ve ever been able to before.”
Sydney’s Academy side also return to action Tuesday, taking on Tonga A at TG Milner Oval at 4:00pm (local time).
Brisbane National Academy 17 – Fiji A 24
Academy tries – Mitch Felsman, Tim Buchanan.
Academy conversions – Felsman (2).
Academy penalty goals – Felsman.
Sydney National Academy 24 – Samoa A 33
Academy tries – Hugh Roach, Will Meakes, Elijah Niko.
Academy conversions – David Horwitz (3).
Academy penalty goals – Horwitz.
National Academy (Brisbane) v Fiji A
University of Queensland
National Academy (Sydney) v Samoa A
Kotoni Ale (C)
2013 IRB Pacific Rugby Cup tournament schedule – Australian leg
HSBC Waratah A Team
Allianz Stadium, Sydney
ACT XV 58
Samoa A 19
Vikings Park, Canberra
Reds College XV 24
Tonga A 3
Brisbane Academy 17
Fiji A 24
Sydney Academy 24
Samoa A 33
TG Milner Oval, Sydney
ACT XV 62
Tonga A 12
Emirates Western Force A
Harlequins RC, Melbourne
Reds College XV
Griffith Oval, Canberra