Wests end 16-year Hospital Cup drought with impressive win over UQ

Wests have broken their sixteen-year premiership drought and are the 2022 Store Local Hospital Cup champions after defeating UQ in the Grand Final at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday afternoon. 

Catch an extensive recap of the Grand Final below.

Wests v UQ

Wests’ sixteen-year stint in the premiership wilderness is over after a magnificent Grand Final victory against UQ at a roaring Suncorp Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

First Half

UQ made the fast start to the premiership decider with an immediate impact on the scoreboard. After prop Alex Davies secured UQ’s first scrum penalty of the match within a minute, the Student’s  marched down the field with a brilliantly executed backline play. The ball went through a succession of silky Red Heavies’ hands as Jock Campbell added the first five pointer of the Grand Final in the third minute.

Wests steadied momentarily, adding a penalty conversion, and winning a crucial scrum inside their own twenty-two. Filipo Daugunu and Jacobus Eloff among other Bulldogs produced massive defensive efforts to repel a pressing UQ attack. Their resistance was short-lived however, as hooker Cam Flavell barged over from a rolling maul to extend the Student’s lead to a converted try in the opening twenty minutes of the clash.

The Bulldogs tried and failed twice to score from lineout malls just metres out. Sam Wallis produced a vital penalty on his own defensive line against Eloff to prevent Wests from capitalising on their brief momentum and share of possession. Tempers flared as UQ’s stubborn line proved difficult to penetrate prior to thirtieth minute. Angelo Smith ensured that the Bulldog’s ascendancy wouldn’t go unrewarded however, with a bullocking try in the 31st minute to lock things up at ten points apiece. 

Flyhalf Brad Twidale decided to throw a spanner in the works just as proceedings had evened up. UQ’s No.10 smothered his opposite number’s kick and picked up the crumbs to score just five minutes before the major interval, dampening Wests’ confidence.

Minutes later, Heavies’ scrumhalf Kalani Thomas was put in the sin bin for ten minutes after obstructing Seru Uru’s colossal individual run through the middle of Suncorp Stadium. Cooper Whiteside clinched three crucial points to leave the halftime score 17-13 in UQ’s favour. 

The opening stanza of the 2022 Grand Final was a pulsating and brutal contest between two evenly matched sides. Both teams reproduced the intensity from their semi-final epic a fortnight ago, much to the delight of the passionate fans attending Suncorp Stadium. Flanker Sam Wallis and hooker Cam Flavell were significant contributors for the Students while No.8 Seru Uru and prop Jacobus Eloff imposed themselves for Wests.

Second Half

Bulldog’s winger Filipo Daugunu stuck an errant leg out in an attempt to trip Tate McDermott in the 42nd minute and was yellow carded, leaving both sides with fourteen men for the opening ten minutes of the second stanza.

The enthralling scrum battle persisted in the second half, UQ securing another three points from set piece to again extend the margin to seven points. 

A mammoth Vilikesa Raboiliku and Carter Gordon shot on UQ’s Lukas Ripley led to a Jock Campbell fumble in his own goal line, handing the ball straight back to the Bulldogs. It didn’t take long for the Bulldog’s to score a pivotal try, Raboiliku showing his class with a weighted ball for Jacobus Eloff to run onto. The prop’s 50th minute try and subsequent Whiteside conversion saw the scores all tied up at twenty-all once again.

Wests’ faithful were sent into raptures moments later as the Bulldogs hit the front for the first time in the match. A risky ball from UQ’s Nicholas Jooste wound up in the hands of Ben Navosailagi, the speedster running forty metres without a finger laid on him and giving his side a seven-point advantage.

The captivating Grand Final kept delivering twists and turns when the Red Heavies’ Sam Wallis crawled his way over the line to equalize the scoreboard yet again with roughly twenty minutes on the clock.

Jordan Uelese made an instant impact by leading his forward pack to a major scrum victory and giving the Bulldogs some priceless field position. Wests converted again off the back of their set piece win to break the twenty-seven all deadlock. Daugunu’s fifty-twenty-two left foot kick helped maintain Wests’ momentum forcing UQ to doggedly defend their line. Despite the Student’s steadfast efforts, the Bulldogs were ultimately irrepressible as Seru Uru crashed over in the 71st minute to give his side a ten-point gap with seven minutes left in the season.

A surging Bulldog’s forward pack kept rampaging towards more points as they had done all season. Wests’ reserve hooker Jordan Uelese was the man who put the nail in the coffin, extending the lead to an unassailable seventeen points with a try and kicking the ball out on the final siren to break Wests’ sixteen-year drought.

The Bulldogs are bringing the premiership home to Sylvan Road under coach Elwee Prinsloo, player of the season Conor Anderson and Captain Latu Talakai. They snap the second longest premiership drought in Queensland premier rugby history and win their first Grand Final since 2006 in front of a legion of Bulldog’s fans. UQ fail to go back-to-back despite a brave showing on the day and tremendous home and away season.

Jordan Uelese and Angelo Smith produced gigantic Grand Final performances for Wests, imposing themselves on UQ’s forward pack throughout the contest. Sam Wallis was a standout performer for the Students, consistently putting his body on the line. The Tony Shaw player of the match was Seru Uru. Wests’ No.8 was dynamic in attack, an enforcer in defence and scored a crucial try that ensured the Bulldogs would break their premiership drought.