Game 5 – vs. Rebels at Kyeemagh

As the Gators headed into their week 5 contest against the 0-3 Northern Sydney Rebels, Head Coach Rocco Bosco was very clear in his message to the team, “We can not afford to take any opponent lightly.  These games are danger games.” Following a good week of preparation, the Gators were ready. The Rebels had taken a beating one week earlier in a 62-6 drubbing at the hands of the defending champion Sydney University Lions and despite having several key players out with injuries, they were determined to be giant killers and upset the league leading Gators. Try as they might, the Rebels were no match for the Gators defense, who shut out the Rebels and stole the ball with interceptions and fumble recoveries almost at will.  The Gator offense was much more consistent than in past weeks, racking up seven touchdowns. After going into halftime leading 38-0, the Gators put it on cruise control for the second half, taking the victory, 62-0 and keeping the Gators atop the ladder at 5-0.

UTS vs Rebels

Anders Tracey sacks the Rebels QB

Gabriel Marambio and Marco Soriano joined permanent captains, Andrew Asher and Tim Clulow for the coin toss, in recognition of their outstanding, unselfish play this season. With Northern Sydney’s depleted numbers and the caliber at which the Gators offense and defense performed through the first quarter, Coach Bosco strategically substituted his second stringers into the game and they didn’t disappoint, particularly on defense with rookies defensive tackle Anders Tracey getting his first career qb sack and cornerback Moey Musawi picking up a clutch interception.

Offensively, the Gators were able to run and pass effectively, with running backs Freddy Prince, Marco Soriano, Tommy Benson and Hamish Holland all picking up big yards on the ground with several scores amongst them and quarterbacks Brad Leech and Peter Tos able to gain good yards through the air including two touchdowns to wide receivers Justin Fatu-Leota (5 yards) and Thomas Granger (30 yards).

After missing the first 3 games of the season, starting running back, Freddy Prince has already made an impact, rushing for 134 yards against the Rebels, and is pleased with the team nature of the Gators play, “This new group is the most talented I’ve been associated with but I also believe it helps with the good veterans, play-makers & coaching staff we have on both sides of the ball.  Most definitely you need a good team to win this league not just good individuals and I believe we have the best team in the league.”

UTS vs Rebels

LB Marcos Delana takes an interception to the house

Defensively, the Gators stuffed the Rebels, barely allowing any first-downs and keeping them off of the scoreboard completely. With so many stellar performances, including linebacker Marcos Delana running back an interception 16 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter, defensive end Tim Clulow and linebacker Andrew Asher forcing the Rebels punter into a safety for 2 points, several interceptions and fumble recoveries and huge yards rushing by Freddy Prince including a 42 yard scamper from the right sideline, cutting back to left sideline then back to the right, following great down-field blocking, it was certainly difficult for the coaching staff to choose an MVP but the honour went to rookie cornerback Tristan Ireland for his lock-down coverage and a tremendously athletic diving interception.

Ireland commented on what it’s like to be a rookie on this year’s team, “The transition [to the new sport] has been pretty smooth actually, due mostly in part to the support from the rest of the defense, namely the secondary. Those guys are constantly in my ear at training and games, instructing and guiding me through all the technical parts of the game, eliminating that heavy learning curve I’d normally face. All the information and technique is laid out by coach Piscioneri and the boys, it’s just a matter of taking that tutelage and fulfilling it.”

Tristan_Ireland_vs_Pirates

Rookie CB Tristan Ireland

Ireland is also impressed with the defense as a unit and is excited for the future, “I think the D-Line up front has been strong. From game 1 against the [Wollongong] Mustangs, those boys have been strong. They’re dogs. They get to the QB, plain and simple. In the recent weeks, the secondary have really started clicking. It’s an area of the field that requires a lot of cohesion, and we’ve really developed that rapport recently, just through time spent with each other. We’re at the point now where we’re playing really tight, and providing a lot of coverage pressure on their offensive line, allowing the dogs up front to get that bone, haha.
With Achilles [FS/LB Jamie McGrory] back on the field, and playing alongside Erhron [Noakes] at safety, I think the best is yet to come. Those boys are leaders, and make it easy to perform well next to, as rookies. I’m not big on stats, but on numbers alone, we’re the strongest defense in the league, and we’ve barely hit our potential. I really can’t wait to face the [Sutherland] Seahawks, who are putting up some big scoring numbers, and shutting them down through all 11 positions.”

Head Coach Bosco, reflected on the season so far, “At the mid-point of the season, it is nice to be sitting on top. Our defense has certainly played up to expectations and is full of menace. Our rookies have been making plays on both sides of the ball and our veterans are running around enjoying football again. There’s a lot of spirit in the squad and that is translating into willingness to work hard for each other.”

Never satisfied with anything less than perfection, Bosco takes a realistic look ahead, “Beating the Pirates [in week 3] was an obvious highlight of the season thus far but we’ll need to make significant improvements to match that result when we play them again in the post-season. We have many challenges ahead of us in what remains of the season. [Our next few games] we face an improving Predators, a resurgent Seahawks, the hard-fighting Sharks, the potentially explosive Raiders and the powerhouse Lions. Our defense will need to maintain its dominance and our sometimes sputtering offense will need to find a combination of consistency and rhythm to maintain our top spot.”

Next week sees the UTS Gators get a much needed rest with a scheduled bye, followed by a league bye for the holiday long weekend.

The Gators next face the 3-2 Northwestern Predators on Saturday, October 11th at 5 Sports in Caringbah at 7:00 pm. Come show your support and cheer your Gators on to victory.

Statistical Leaders (Game)

Passing:
Player Comp/Att Yards TD INT
Brad Leech 8/15 148 2 (30, 5) 1
Peter Tos 1/3 34
Rushing:
Player Rushes Yards TD (yards) 2-point
Freddy Prince 15 134 2 (3, 7) 3
Tommy Benson 9 68 1 (6) 1
Hamish Holland 7 37 1 (6) 1
Marco Soriano 6 25 1
Justin Fatu-Leota 3 13 1 (7)
Will Newnham 1 Fumble Recovery 39
Receiving:
Player Receptions Yards TD (yards)
Thomas Granger 3 91 1 (30)
Justin Fatu-Leota 2 39 1 (5)
Jim Close 2 11
Defense:
Player Tackles (For Loss) Other
Marcos Delana 7 (3) 1 INT returned 14 yards for TD
Andrew Asher 5 (4) Fumble Forced and Recovered
Hamish Holland 4
Erhron Noakes 3 (1) Fumble Forced and Recovered
Matthew Power 2 (2) 2 blocked passes
Gabriel Marambio 2 (1) Forced Fumble, Sack
Anders Tracey 1 (1) Sack
Hugh Delaney 1 (1) Sack
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