Manly Savers are into a historic first Radford Cup Colts grand final after defeating Colleagues 19-nil in dreadful conditions on Saturday.
With upwards of 60-kilometre gusts of wind hurtling stinging nettles of rain horizontally across Keirle Park, Savers overcame three second-half yellow cards to run in three tries to reach the club’s first Colts grand final in 112 years.
In an even and physical contest played in diabolical conditions, Savers opened the scoring after ten minutes when No.7 Will Barnett plunged over. Shortly afterwards Kingi Reilly crossed the stripe before Matt Swain converted.
Savers captain and No.8 Rob Grant said there was no true “turning point” though a key moment came late in the second half. With two Savers forwards in the sin bin, Colleagues had a scrum feed 5 metres out from Savers’ line. Yet the home team forced their opponents back and stole the ball.
“We knew we were under the pump and if we let them in it could’ve changed the game,” Grant said. “Our physicality and presence got us over the line. We were two players down and kept fighting despite making life fairly difficult for ourselves.”
When Reilly crossed for his second try (while two of his team-mates were off the park) it sealed the match.
Reilly, a former Narraweena Hawks rugby league player, was Savers’ best, according to Grant.
“He was the best on field, for mine. He’s new to union this year, played league his whole life. He was extremely physical in attack and defence. His second one when we had thirteen guys on the field sealed the win,” Grant said.
Elsewhere five-eighth Alex Di Dano “controlled the game really well,” according to Grant. “He was great for us in the conditions, he found heaps of ways to bend the defence. And his kicking game was great.”
After the game Colts coach and club President Johnny “Fridge” Szaka was “stoked”, Grant reported.
“He knew we deserved to be in the final and it’s a true credit to the players and the club.
“The boys never gave up and in conditions that didn’t suit our style of play at all we beat a very strong Colleagues team,” Grant said.