The University of Southern Queensland’s victorious Ironbarks rugby league team has returned to Toowoomba proudly brandishing the University Cup.
The USQ Ironbarks won a resounding victory in the Grand Final of the Universities Rugby League Queensland Tournament (URLQ) in September, defeating Griffith Nathan Dragons 26-6 at Davies Park in Brisbane.
To add even further significance to the hard-fought victory, it was the first time USQ had fielded a team in the tournament for several years.
Of the 21-member squad, 10 members are current Concannon College residents, three are past Concannon residents, one is a McGregor College resident and the remainder of the team is made up of USQ students with two non-students, in accordance with tournament regulations.
Returning to the competition this year after a short hiatus, the Ironbarks dominated the back half of the season registering seven straight victories to break their premiership drought in emphatic style.
As promised, the brutal opening exchanges lived up to all expectations, with the giant Dragons forward pack bending the back of the Ironbarks defence, yet costly mistakes kept the boys from Griffith on the back foot for much of the first half.
The Dragons resolute defence finally cracked in the 17th minute, with Ironbarks captain Mick O’Keefe executing a nifty blindside movement to send winger Scott Watson in for a four pointer, with O’Keefe’s sideline conversion providing a 6-0 advantage.
Weight of possession saw USQ post their second try just five minutes later, with wily hooker Lyndon McGrath beating four defenders to crash over beside the posts.
The Ironbarks extended their 12-0 half time advantage upon the resumption, with burly prop Sam Rogers barreling defenders in a brutal 40 meter charge to cross for USQ’s third try and a 16-0 lead.
And just as Griffith Nathan began to mount some pressure, a misguided Dragons grubber saw livewire Ironbarks five-eighth Jay Melrose pounce, streaking the length of the field to hand USQ an unassailable 20-0 lead heading into the final quarter.
The Ironbarks were home and hosed when fullback Jordan Heidke scored off a magical moment of individual brilliance, with Dragons backrower Patty Leaupepe crossing for a consolation Dragons try late in the game.
USQ’s Jay Melrose capped off a stellar season for the Toowoomba boys, taking out the top point scorer and top try scorer awards for season 2012, with the QUT Trouts Kurt Dobbin being named the URLQ Player of the season at the post game presentation.
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Jim Campbell, USQ Media, +617 4631 2977, firstname.lastname@example.org