University of Adelaide Roma's Round 1 Recap

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Jahan Emery

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The University of Adelaide Roma’s have started the 2019 Aon Uni7s series with a strong outing against the nation’s best up and coming Rugby Sevens talent. The opening round of the series included all the contracted players from the Australian women’s sevens squad who definitely showed their quality throughout.

The Australian high performance staff were on hand throughout the weekend, casting their eyes over the new spread of talent from the ten university teams.

Match Reports Round 1 – The University of Queensland
14th & 15th September 2019

Game 1
The University of Adelaide Roma’s v The University of Melbourne.

The opening stages of the Roma’s tournament saw them face Melbourne, who we had played a month prior to the tournament. Inclusions of Ellia Green and Page McGregor made us weary of the potential threats across the park.

The Roma’s started with 2.5 minutes of defending within the Melbourne half, where suddenly the Ellia “The Green Machine” Green, got her hands on the ball in space.
Dubbed one of the most dangerous wingers in world rugby, we were desperate to starve her of space and time.

Luckily, Welsh international Jasmine Joyce made a textbook tackle to push Green over the sideline to give us our first possession of the half.

We immediately gave the ball back to Melbourne with a simple penalty allowing them to make their way into our half, before we regained possession through an intercept to Mahalia Murphy. Immediately playing a couple of phases to the blindside, the ball ended up in Alice Gregory’s hands where she sped away to go under the sticks untouched.

After several phases from Melbourne, we were able to gain back possession through a loose pass, but an untimely knock on robbed us of our hard-earned possession.

Joyce again came to our rescue, making another crucial tackle, this time on Melbourne winger Arumbi, which gave us a scrum just outside our defending 22m line. A quick penalty was taken and given out wide the Joyce who then ran 80m untouched to score.

Commencing the second half, we received possession of the ball and immediately moved it wide as Nathan set up Alisha Butchers for a strong line break and a gain of 60m, unfortunately we couldn’t hold the ball and handed over to Melbourne 10m out from their try line.

Passing the ball wide, d’Arcy Sadler pounced on an unsupported ball runner to affect our first turnover for the tournament. The ball was then move forward again by Butchers to be set up mid field, where Lauren Meyer found holes in the Melbourne defence to bolt in under the goal posts.

Two brutal tackles in a row by Brianna Nathan, saw us gain back possession from a forced knock on. A Roma’s scrum immediately followed where we turned over possession, just as Green returned to the field. We stopped her once but a combination between Page McGregor and Green put Melbourne over in the corner for their first try of the match.

A line break by Sadler allowed Butchers to stride away to be backed up by Welsh Teammate Joyce to get the final try of the match.

Final Score: Roma’s 28 – 5 University of Melbourne
Try’s: Alice Gregory, Lauren Meyer, Jasmine Joyce (2)
Conversions: Brianna Nathan (3/3), Jasmine Joyce (1/1)

Game 2
The University of Adelaide Roma’s v The University of Sydney

In Sydney’s first match of the day they came out firing, with 2018 superstar Jakiya Whitfield making a line break and forcing a battle of the speedsters, with Joyce in pursuit. The Welsh star eventually made a 70m turn and chase down tackle to prevent Sydney scoring.

A series of turnovers stemming from poor ball control in defence then handed the ascendancy to Sydney. They took advantage of their extended period of possession, putting themselves over the try line three times before the break to go into halftime trailing 17-0.

Sydney started the second half with a shallow kick off which was safely taken by Mahalia Murphy. The Roma’s moved the ball wide, but the field was well covered by Sydney and we couldn’t find any space. Another footrace between Joyce and Whitfield ensued, where this time possession was unfortunately turned over.

Helping Sydney upfield, we conceded a penalty before forcing a ruck penalty of our own. However, we were unable to capitalise on our possession in the following play, where Alice Gregory was swept off her feet big a strong Sydney duo, who ripped the ball in contact.

To make things worse for the Roma’s, Murphy received a yellow card for a knockdown. We gifted Sydney strong field position through a midfield penalty and they duly responded by going under the black dot, again through Whitfield.

Not being able to catch a break, the Roma’s let a ball into touch from the kick-off and then handed Sydney back possession through a mistiming at the lineout.

Wallaroo’s Skipper Grace Hamilton made the first run for Sydney and then a solid defence effort from the Roma’s held out Sydney from crossing again.

Getting final possession of the match, the Roma’s had another lineout, which was unfortunately overthrown to a rampant Hamilton who rolled her way over the white paint to conclude the contest.

Final Score: Roma’s 0 - 28 University of Sydney

Game 3
The University of Adelaide Roma’s v Bond University

The Roma’s received their first possession of their match on the 40m line as Bond knocked the ball on from the kick-off.

Vani Pelite made her presence immediately felt as she made a blistering run up the sideline, the ball was then flung to the other edge where Eva Karpani made one of her trademark runs. Enter Ellie Konopka, cutting through the Bond defence and accelerating towards the try line, going in untouched.

Restarting play, Brianna Nathan found some grass to have the ball bounce into touch, giving Bond a Lineout on the 22m line. An overthrow allowed the Roma’s to gain possession and throw the ball wide to speedster Alice Gregory to go around the would-be defenders to stretch the lead with the second try of the match.

Vani Pelite then channeled her inner beast and made 3 tackles in a row, putting Bond under considerable pressure. They eventually found some space in centre field, before Nathan stopped them in their tracks. Another steal from Sadler was successful but offloaded to grass where the bounce of the ball went the way of Bond.

Bond received a penalty on our 22m line, but were unable to manage the ball, soon knocking on, before the Roma’s frustratingly gave the ball back up. Bond threw the ball to ground, which allowed Karpani to get a boot and make a chase upfield. However, the smarts of Bond’s Miah O’Sullivan shone through as she kicked the ball to just get away from the K-Train.

Defensive miscommunication allowed Bond in for their first try, which saw them go into the half time break with a sense of momentum.

We kicked off to start the second half, where a solid chase from Murphy forced Bond to knock on. After a couple of phases, the ball was moved wide to Joyce, who once again evaded her defender to add another try to her rapidly increasing tally.

Bond then turned the tables, making several runs upfield catching the Roma’s defence napping. They made a break and passed the ball out wide to their winger who looked for all money like she was on for a try. Enter Joyce, who stripped the ball on contact and ran 95m to score under the posts. The spectacular period of play was deservedly nominated as the #1 try of the round on

After the restart, Bond’s Lauren Brown made a break down the sideline, only to be covered by Alice Gregory knocking the ball backwards and into touch.

A quick lineout saw Bond move the ball edge to edge of the field but a forward pass halted their momentum, giving the Roma’s a scrum followed by a much needed penalty.

A quick tap then saw the Roma’s take critical field possession where Konopka made another clean break, passing to Kildare who was brought down short of the try line. Lauren Meyer was ever present as she picked up a pass to dart over in the corner.
Nathan then proceeded to win the crossbar challenge of the day, as her conversion went to distance to hit the horizontal pole and going though. Taking the score to Roma’s 31 – 7 Bond University.

A ruck penalty followed where Bond were quick to execute and score, concluding the comfortable Roma’s victory.

Final Score: Roma’s 31 – 14 Bond University
Try’s: Ellie Konopka, Jasmine Joyce (2), Alice Gregory, Lauren Meyer
Conversions: Brianna Nathan (3/5)

Game 4
The University of Adelaide Roma’s v Griffith University

In our final match of the day, we came up against 2018 tournament champions, Griffith University.

Pelite gained the ball from a kick-off and pushed her way through the wide defence, putting the Roma’s in a good position to start an attacking raid. The ball was moved edge to edge before a missed pass went to ground and stopped our forward momentum, an early opportunity to stamp our authority missed.

Griffith first possession of the ball was used cautiously as they applied pressure and started building phases within our half. A strong defensive showing followed from the Roma’s before unfortunately giving away a penalty, which allowed them to re-organise themselves.

The Queenslanders threw the ball wide, where Joyce made a try saving tackle, but they spread it again to the other side of the field, where they couldn’t be stopped from going in for their first try of the match.

Griffith then kicked the ball short, which allowed the Roma’s to take possession on halfway, a tape move set up Murphy for a mid-field break, where she was pulled up short by a knock on by Griffith. This gave us a centre field scrum.

Coach James O’Keefe used the opportunity to make an impact by putting Eva Karpani into the action. Unfortunately, a tighthead scrum ensued where the Roma’s lost possession of ball, in what would prove a critical moment of the match.

Vani Pelite then jumped on a loose pass from Griffith and passed to Karpani, who made a bullocking run down the sideline. Looking sharp, Lauren Potter ran a superb line to offload to Murphy who scored the try carrying a Griffith defender on her back. A critical try, as it rounded out the half.

Retrieving the kick-off to start the second match put the Roma’s in the driver’s seat. Joyce then evaded 4 players to set the Roma’s up for another attacking onslaught, another Karpani run followed by Pelite getting the ball into her hands for a certain try to Winger Joyce, but unfortunately the pass was ruled forward.

The Roma’s then applied considerable scrum pressure and Pelite jumped on a lost ball. The Roma’s then passed the ball out wide to Joyce who went over the try line for the teams second try, to take back the lead in the increasingly gripping contest.

Restarting play, our kick went short and gave Griffith an attacking opportunity where Aussie 7s player Sammi Treheane cut through the line with support to go over the paint.

Griffith again got their own kick back and put the Roma’s under immediate pressure. Griffith Number 10 then caught our linkages short and cut through to put Griffith back in the lead.

Showing that there was life left in the Roma’s side late in the match, Butchers caught a spectacular kick off and produced a solid line break to give Adelaide front foot ball. The ball was then moved to Pelite who cut through the line and passed to Joyce who again evaded 6 defenders to put us back in front with only a minute to go on the clock.

Griffith then made a run back to the midway point of the field, where a missed tackle allowed Griffith to score in the final seconds of the match, cruelly stealing victory away from the brace Roma’s.

Final Score: Roma’s 19 – 24 Griffith University
Try’s: Mahalia Murphy Jasmine Joyce (2)
Conversions: Brianna Nathan (2/2), Jasmine Joyce (0/1)

The University of Adelaide Roma’s v University of Canberra

A late start for the Roma’s to the second day of competition allowed them a well-earned sleep in following the oppressive heat of Saturday, and strong preparation for their qualifying match for the 5th place playoff.

Vani Pelite immediately showed her class, as she nabbed an intercept try in the matches very early stages, to ensure the Roma’s attacked the contest with a strong sense of momentum.

We then pushed up on Canberra, playing with the offside line and eventually penalised for it. Canberra rep Sharni Williams then made a line break following the penalty to put Canberra on the front foot. But this was stopped with a big tackle from Karpani.

Issues at the back of the scrum then stopped us from getting clean ball and we lost possession. Canberra then movde the ball wide and back to the middle where Sharni Williams put out two big “don’t argues” to the Roma’s and went in under the posts to score Canberra’s first try.
Receiving the ball from the kick off Karpani made a subdued run and set us up for an attacking raid only stopped by a penalty to us.

We unfortunately turned the ball over in an unusual circumstances in contact where the ball went to ground and a scrum was awarded to Canberra. Putting a kick through, Canberra then pinned us down in our try line, where Karpani got us out trouble, moving the ball Joyce who was wrapped up by Rachel Crothers.

After a number of phases and not moving forward, Pelite put in a kick that came off a Canberra player. Luckily Canberra made a handling error, we picked up the ball and passed it one wide to Joyce who again ran the length of the field untouched, handing the Roma’s a 15-7 lead.

Receiving the kick-off for the second half, Sadler then gave the ball on a short line to Butchers, who offloaded back to Sadler. The ball was passed wide to Gregory and the Roma’s went in again, but over the referee comms we were accused by the Canberra bench of having 8 players on the field. With our 5 reserves accounted for on our own bench, there was a re-count and play subsequently continued.

Vani Pelite then made critical tackle forcing a knock on from Canberra, giving us back possession. A scrum followed, and Canberra’s Yasmin Meakes put on considerable pressure at the back of it to win get back possession, but unfortunately to no avail, as they knocked the ball on moments later.

Another scrum failure for the Roma’s saw the ball go to ground and a Canberra boot put the ball through the dead ball line. Some friendly banter between Pelite and Meakes at halfback followed, where Pelite cheekily put a toe to the ball and threw the ball back to Meakes. Canberra moved the ball wide to go in over in the corner.

Murphy tapped back the kick-off to our side, where we moved the pass across field. But in a decisive moment for the games Rachel Crothers from Canberra was awarded yellow for knocking the ball down. Leaving Canberra to 6 players for the remainder of the match.

To finish out the match, Joyce again went across field evading 5 players to run away but this time dragged down short of the tryline. She then showcased the full array of her skills, recycling the ball herself and then flipping over the try line to finish out the match

Final score: Roma’s 20 – 12 University of Canberra
Try’s: Vani Pelite, Jasmine Joyce (2), Alice Gregory
Conversions: Mahalia Murphy (0/2), Lauren Kildare (0/1)

Game 6 – FINAL 5th v 6th Playoff
The University of Adelaide Roma’s v University of Melbourne

We finished the tournament the way we started, again coming up against the University of Melbourne, who were on a 2 match win streak on the second day of competition.

We started the match strongly, fully aware of the form and confidence our opponents would bring into the match. The kick off went dead and we started with possession back on halfway, a great start to combat this.

There was a slight delay in play as the 3-year-old ball boy slowly brought the ball back to Pelite. A run and offloaded by butchers gave Karpani a chance down the right edge, where the ball was stolen from us in a ruck.

Thankfully, Melbourne held onto the ball in a ruck and Pelite took a quick tap, darting across the field and putting the ball down just to the left of the posts.

To restart play a flying Karpani came close to regaining possession but knocked the ball on, giving Melbourne strong field position. Melbourne moved the ball to the Left of the field where Joyce was eagerly waiting to jump on the ball. She got herself over the ruck and latched onto the ball, then survived a brutal clean out from Green.

Taking the tap quickly, we move to ball to Pelite who put a little kick through, escaping the hands of Karpani. Another penalty allowed us to keep moving forward and the ball ended up in Ellie Konopka’s hands as she ran into score a try, carrying two defenders over the line in the process.

Restarting play, Pelite found some green and the ball bounced into touch. After a couple of phases from Melbourne, Pelite was able to get over the ball and give us a turnover within their half of the field. It was then Pelite who threw a cut out pass to Joyce who came back infield to step another 5 defenders to score.

We restarted the second half with a kick form Murphy which didn’t make the 10m mark, gifting Melbourne the starting possession. Murphy quickly atoned for her error, jumping on a breakdown to gain back possession. The ball was then immediately thrown wide and Lauren Potter took off with serious speed to score and capped off the impressive play by converting her own try.

After the kick-off we gained back possession from a short arm penalty and took it quickly. Joyce then ran into a strong Melanie Kawa and Melbourne received a penalty for us holding onto the ball.

After a number of Melbourne phases, a long pass was snatched out of the air by Joyce, giving the Roma’s back possession in the latter minutes of the match. This was closely followed by a penalty, where Pelite took it quickly and linked up with Kelly Rowe who evaded Page McGregor and set up Alice Gregory to score next to the posts.

The Roma’s defence held strong the following minutes, where eventually Joyce snuck into an unsupported ruck and turned over the ball. Showing her rugby smarts, D’arcy Sadler finished the match with a big ‘don’t argue’ and make a break up the far side of the field, giving the ball back on the inside to Gregory, which unfortunately hit the deck.

Final Score: Roma’s 31 – 0 The University of Melbourne
Try’s: Vani Pelite, Ellie Konopka, Jasmine Joyce, Lauren Potter, Alice Gregory
Conversion’s: Vani Pelite (0/1), Lauren Potter (2/2), Lauren Kildare (1/1)