With the 2014 Gridiron NSW Women’s season set to kickoff in a short 2 weeks, the UTS Lady Gators have been training hard in hopes of improving on their 3rd place finish last season. Preseason started in early June with […]
Week 4 saw UTS matched up against the winless Nepean Ducks. In their first season of competition in Gridiron NSW, the Ducks have struggled to find their identity but despite lacking experienced talent at key positions on both sides of […]
The UTS Gators knew that this week’s matchup against the undefeated West Sydney Pirates would prove to be a monster challenge and one that could solidify their place at the top of the ladder. “We win tonight and every team […]
Heavy rains continued all week leading up to the Gators’ round 2 matchup against the 0-1 Newcastle Cobras but that did not dampen the Gators’ intensity as they stormed to a 62 – 6 victory amid the mud and muck […]
On what started out as a rainy Saturday morning, the sun and the Gators shone bright at Caringbah this week in the opening match of the 2014 campaign against the Wollongong Mustangs. Winning 52 – 16, UTS have proven themselves […]
With the 2014 Gridiron NSW Women’s season set to kickoff in a short 2 weeks, the UTS Lady Gators have been training hard in hopes of improving on their 3rd place finish last season. Preseason started in early June with plenty of new players coming down to try out the latest women’s sport. With only a handful of players returning from 2013, it has been a busy preseason with the whole team starting back at the basics and building on that. New players have come from a lot of different sports including soccer, basketball, rugby league and union as well as players who have watched the game on TV, have relatives who play in the men’s team or heard about it through friends.
Head Coach, Tiffany Bosco is excited to see how the team goes this season. “With the loss of some big players from last year, we will be looking to build on our rookies coming through. It will be a season of learning as we go and improving every week. We have a bunch of new rookies who will be a huge asset to the team and the players returning from last year will be able to help push them along.” Missing out on the Opal Bowl (championship game) last year because of a game being rained-out and unable to be rescheduled, left the Lady Gators with a bitter taste in their mouth and they are looking to even the score this year and leave no doubt that they should be at the top.
Returning player, Joana Malolo, voted 2013 UTS Women’s player’s player, had this to say about this year’s team, “The 2014 UTS female gridiron team have heart, determination, resilience and the ability to laugh about our mistakes and to strive for perfection.”
Taking a look at each positional group:
Quarterbacks: With one returning QB from last year and a rookie stepping up, this season will see both QBs sharing the load. Both QBs offer great skills in different areas and will be utilized for their strengths.
Running Backs: A lot of rookies means we will have quite a bit of depth in the RB position.
Receivers: This is the position where a lot of the players are returning from last season. Their experience will help when tough catches need to be made.
Offensive and Defensive Line: Another position with players returning from last year as well as some impressive rookies. Strong offensive line means there will be big gaps for the RBs and good protection for the QBs.
Linebackers: Rookies with speed. Having lost our linebackers from 2013, it will be a big learning curve for the rookies who will have to step up.
Defensive Backs: A good mix of returning players and rookies in the defensive backfield this season. They will need to learn from each other the get the job done.
Levini Tuipulotu, a player returning from last year, excited for the 2014 season, had this to say, “It’s been a very long preseason. Finally, the season is almost here. I can’t wait til the season kicks off and I get to play alongside our rookies.” Levini was one of 8 UTS players who represented NSW in the inaugural NSW Coyotes team that played in the National Women’s Gridiron Tournament held earlier this year and competed against QLD and ACT.
One of the rookies, Rebecca Baldin, has been watching gridiron in NSW for years and finally decided to try it out for herself. “I’m super excited for the season to start. The team has been working really hard in the preseason and we’re ready to play football!” She also had this to say regarding being a first year player, “The team and coaches have been really welcoming and it’s been really fun learning a new sport.” Baldin will be a huge contributor on both sides of the ball, playing both quarterback and linebacker.
The Lady Gators begin their campaign against the Bondi Lady Raiders on Friday 10th October, 2014 at 7:00pm at the hockey fields on Brittania Street, Pennant Hills.
Come on down and support your UTS Lady Gators in their run to the 2014 Opal Bowl.
Week 4 saw UTS matched up against the winless Nepean Ducks. In their first season of competition in Gridiron NSW, the Ducks have struggled to find their identity but despite lacking experienced talent at key positions on both sides of the ball, they have shown that they can play with heart and speed, so the Gators did not take this game lightly. After a sluggish start on offense, the Gators found themselves trailing 0-8 early but quickly snapped back and dominated the Ducks, cruising to a 50-8 victory.
Difficulties getting out of the gate led to an early interception thrown by veteran quarterback Peter Tos, which was returned by the Ducks 44 yards for a touchdown. A successful 2-point conversion put UTS behind 0-8 early in the 1st quarter. Coach Bosco wasted no time in lighting a fire under his players and they responded impressively. The Gator offense put together solid drives, scoring touchdowns on each of their next three possessions and the UTS defense completely shut down the Ducks, not allowing a single first-down the entire first half.
Scoring drives of 48, 36 and 70 yards with Tos rushing 2 yards for a touchdown and passing for two more TDs to slot backs Matthew Schwarz (3 yards) and Clayton Idato (14 yards) along with two 2-point conversion runs by running back Marco Soriano, put the Gators ahead at half-time, 22-8 and in complete control of the game.
The Gator defense continued to confound the Duck offense in the second half, allowing only one first-down the entire game when a Nepean running back snuck outside and broke free for a 31 yard gain as time ran out in the 3rd quarter. The defense didn’t give up a single yard after that, meeting the Ducks ball-carriers in the backfield from there on out. Heading into this week, Defensive Coordinator, Antonio Piscioneri is pleased with how the defense is gelling together this year, “I’m definitely happy with our unity. Our defense looks out for each other and plays on the same page, so to speak. We don’t have players that just do their own thing, we all work together.”
Not to be outdone by his counterpart, UTS quarterback Brad Leech started the second half with a highlight-reel, 61 yard bomb to Thomas Granger for a touchdown on a free play after the Nepean defensive line jumped off-sides. Leech continued the lead the Gators to pay-dirt after corner back Jamie Weeks recovered a fumbled punt return on the Ducks 8 yard line. UTS capitalized on the great field position, sending newly returned running back, Freddy Prince, into the endzone on the very next play.
UTS engineered impressive scoring drives to close out the game, first with a 9 play, 65 yard drive capped off by a 14 yard pass into the endzone from Leech to Schwarz and then a 10 play, 69 yard drive with a 16 yard touchdown pass from Leech to Idato in the game’s dying seconds, for each receiver’s second touchdown of the game.
Come down and cheer on the Gators next Saturday night as they take on the Northern Sydney Rebels at 7:00pm in Kyeemagh (St. George).
Statistical Leaders (Game)
|Freddy Prince||13||34||1 (8)||1|
|Peter Tos||5||22||1 (2)|
|Clayton Idato||4||86||2 (14, 16)|
|Matthew Schwarz||7||68||2 (3, 14)|
|Thomas Granger||1||61||1 (61)|
|Player||Tackles (For Loss)||Other|
|Marcos Delana||9 (2)||1 Forced Fumble|
|Gabriel Marambio||8 (2)|
|Tim Clulow||5 (2)||Sack, Fumble Recovery|
|Ryan King||4 (2)||3 Sacks|
|Matthew Power||3 (1)|
|Jamie Weeks||1||Fumble Recovery|
The UTS Gators knew that this week’s matchup against the undefeated West Sydney Pirates would prove to be a monster challenge and one that could solidify their place at the top of the ladder. “We win tonight and every team will be chasing us the rest of the season.” – Coach Rocco Bosco broke down the importance of the game to his players prior to kickoff.
The Pirates, coming off of their historic Round 2 victory over the Sydney University Lions, ending an 8 year, 99 game win-streak, looked to continue their own streak as the league leaders. The Pirates, however, ran into a stone wall as The Gators showed they are the cream of the crop, defeating West Sydney 13-6 in a game that lived up to expectations as a physical, high-intensity, close-fought contest.
West Sydney took the ball on their own 22 yard line following the opening kickoff from UTS and put together an impressive 11 play, 56 yard drive deep into UTS territory but were eventually stopped by the Gators tenacious defense on a 4th and 9 conversion attempt at the Gators 25 yard line.
Very few yards were gained by either team as the game became a very tough defensive struggle until West Sydney broke a screen pass open late in the first quarter for a 54 yard touchdown despite a fantastic effort by Andre Perko-Marshall, chasing the runner from the opposite sideline and bringing him down one yard into the endzone. The ensuing point-after kick was blocked by UTS defensive end Hugh Delaney and recovered by linebacker Andrew Asher, leaving the score 0-6.
Both defenses continued to hold tough and force four-and-outs. Midway through the second quarter, it was UTS’ turn to break a big play as quarterback Brad Leech found wide receiver Thomas Granger down the sideline for an 85 yard touchdown bomb, leveling the score at 6-6.
Nearing half-time, Leech and Granger teamed up again, this time to pin the Pirates deep in their own territory as Leech’s quick kick on 4th down was downed by Granger on the West Sydney 2 yard line. West Sydney, despite the very poor field position began marching the ball out with several first downs until a sack by defensive end Tim Clulow stalled the drive and sent both teams into half-time locked at 6-6.
On the Pirates’ first play from scrimmage in the second half, West Sydney’s running back suffered a devastating ankle injury and the resulting 1 hour and 45 minute ambulance delay left both teams struggling to stay warm and focused. Once play resumed, the game retained its hard-nosed feel with both defenses keeping the opposing offenses to very few positive yards.
Most of the second half was played in the West Sydney end of the field but UTS was unable to capitalize offensively on the good field position. With about 3 minutes remaining, UTS once again pinned West Sydney deep in their own territory after downing a punt on the Pirates 14 yard line. West Sydney called a pass play and UTS linebacker, Marcos Delana put a brutal hit on the Pirates quarterback, David Ward, in the back-field, jarring the football loose for a sack. Rookie defensive tackle, Ryan King pounced on the ball in the endzone for the go-ahead touchdown. Following Jamie Weeks’ successful point-after kick, UTS led West Sydney 13-6 nearing the 2-minute warning.
West Sydney’s next possession saw them move down the field with a long pass completion followed by a 14 yard touchdown run that was called back for a face-masking penalty. This put West Sydney at 1st and 25 on the UTS 29 yard line. A sack for a loss of 4 yards by defensive end Tim Clulow and stifling tackling by the rest of the UTS front seven forced the Pirates to turn the ball over on downs and give the ball back to our offense on the 26 yard line.
UTS moved the ball to midfield on the back of Marco Soriano before punting to the Pirates with less than a minute remaining. West Sydney took to the air in a last-ditch effort to tie the game. After 2 completions for first downs, time ran out leaving UTS to celebrate their victory and stamp their claim to the top spot in the league standings along with the Sutherland Seahawks and Northwestern Predators as the only other undefeated teams.
Statistical Leaders (Game)
|Brad Leech||8/28||108||1 (85)|
|Thomas Granger||2||87||1 (85)|
|Player||Tackles (For Loss)||Other|
|Marcos Delana||10 (3)||1 Sack, 1 Forced Fumble|
|Jamie McGrory||8 (1)|
|Andrew Asher||8 (1)||1 Sack, 1 Fumble Recovery|
|Tim Clulow||7 (2)||3 Sacks, 1 Fumble Recovery|
|Gabriel Marambio||7 (1)|
|Ryan King||3 (1)||2 Fumbles Recovered, 1 for TD|
Heavy rains continued all week leading up to the Gators’ round 2 matchup against the 0-1 Newcastle Cobras but that did not dampen the Gators’ intensity as they stormed to a 62 – 6 victory amid the mud and muck of Forestville Oval.
Following the opening Newcastle kickoff that went out of bounds, UTS began their first drive near midfield. QB Brad Leech immediately took to the air with completions to Wide Receiver Nicolas Giovanangeli for 9 yards and Slotback Jim Close for 25 yards. Dodging a bullet, UTS kept possession of the ball after an apparent fumble by Close that was recovered by Newcastle but was ruled down by the officials. UTS then kept the ball on the ground with good runs by Running Back Aleks Todorovic including an 11 yard blast for a key 3rd down conversion and a 10 yard touchdown run by Leech to complete the opening drive.
The muddy field proved to be a major factor for the rest of the first quarter with neither team able to gain much ground on offense. Ironically, a fumbled punt return by UTS which put Newcastle in great scoring position at the UTS 10 yard line was just the spark we needed to gain traction and set the tone for the rest of the game. The Gator defense stuffed Newcastle’s run game and got the ball back for the offense following a fumble forced by Linebacker Jamie McGrory and recovered by Safety Erhron Noakes.
The offense began making sustained drives and punched in three more touchdowns before half. Newcastle briefly showed some life by scoring on a 75 yard trick pass play as the first half came to a close with the score 26 – 6.
The second half proved to be more of the same high intensity football by the UTS Gators with the defense pushing Newcastle back and pressuring their quarterback into an intentional grounding penalty inside their own endzone which resulted in a safety and 2 points for UTS. The offense followed suit and on the very next play from scrimmage, Justin Fatu-Leota took a Wide Receiver reverse 44 yards down the right sideline for a touchdown. Newcastle almost had Fatu-Leota stopped near the 10 yard line but great downfield blocking by Offensive Linemen, Tim Clulow, Ryan King, Will Newnham and Slotback Jim Close popped open just enough of a hole to secure the score.
With the rain beginning to pour down, Coach Bosco made the decision to bring in wiley veteran QB, Peter Tos, who led the Gators down the field with a 38 yard pass completion to WR Lachlan Jenson and several solid runs by RB Tommy Benson which included a 3 yard touchdown for 6 more points.
The Gator defense continued to stifle the Cobra’s attack and prevent them from establishing any kind of momentum. Thomas Granger’s 46 and 52 yard punt returns gave the Gators great field position and led to 2 more scores, both by Tos; a 10 yard touchdown run followed by the 2 point conversion where Tos leveled Newcastle’s middle linebacker, C.J. Bondin, and a 29 yard touchdown pass to Lachlan Jenson.
With less than 2 minutes remaining and a scoreline of 56 – 6, nobody could have criticized the defense for easing up but they didn’t. Late sacks by linebacker Andrew Asher, an interception by cornerback Stephen Marshall and great pressure by the defensive line helped DE Tim Clulow put the final nail in the coffin, ending the game with a fumble recovery returned 56 yards for the game’s final touchdown.
Statistical Leaders (Game)
|Brad Leech||7/13||99||2 (2-pt conv)|
|Tommy Benson||7||66||2 (38, 3)|
|Justin Fatu-Leota||2||39||1 (44)|
|Peter Tos||5||19||1 (10)|
|Brad Leech||7||18||2 (10, 1)|
|Lachlan Jenson||2||67||1 (29)|
|Jim Close||2||27||1 (2-pt conv)|
|Matthew Schwarz||1||2||1 (2-pt conv)|
|Player||Tackles (For Loss)||Other|
|Jamie McGrory||5 (3)||1 Forced Fumble|
|Andrew Asher||6 (5)||3 Sacks|
|Marcos Delana||4 (2)|
|Tristan Sugden||4 (1)||1 Forced Fumble|
|Erhron Noakes||2 (1)||1 Fumble Recovery|
|Tim Clulow||1 (1)||Fumble returned 56yards for TD|