Bond University fought to the death, but were shattered by a brutal three-point loss to University of Queensland in their round 16 Battle of the Scholars blockbuster.
Wearing their Indigenous jerseys at a sodden Canal, the Bull Sharks were hungry for redemption after losing to UQ in round seven at St Lucia.
Bond staged a gritty comeback in the second half, but the match ended in heartbreak for the hosts, 24-21
Too many errors in the wet cost Bond the Brailsford-Brown Cup and the Bull Sharks now have a tough run home in their bid to make the top four.
WHAT IT MEANS
On 44 points, the Bull Sharks are still a mathematical chance to make finals but will need to win against Brothers and Easts who both sit above them on the ladder on 47 points each.
Bond will also be relying on competition heavyweights Wests, UQ and GPS to suffer losses in the final two rounds of the regular season.
After an early penalty to UQ, Bull Sharks stalwart Connor Pritchard scored the first try of the match, and his eighth for the year, when he drove over the line to give the hosts a 7-3 lead at the 20-minute mark. Zane Nonggorr suffered a rib cartridge injury in a scrum and left the field in agony.
UQ forward TJ Siakisini caught Bond’s defenders napping on the right side of the post a minute before the break to score his third try in two weeks. Bond’s chance to lock the scores at 10 points apiece ended with Hamish Roberts’ penalty kick bouncing off the upright.
UQ scored their second try through a barnstorming Joshua Nasser, but the hosts hit back with a brilliant set piece try, culminating in a superb righthand flick pass from Joey Fittock to Roberts who turned on the afterburners to score. Three minutes later Bond crossed again, when Tyler Campbell linked up with his centre partner Dan Boardman to take the lead.
With just four minutes remaining, the match was Bond’s to lose when UQ was handed a yellow card. But minutes later, Bond also suffered the same fate.
Bond’s defence could not withstand UQ’s desperation with Reuben Leilua scoring the match winner in the final moments.
WHAT THEY SAID
“It’s a killer to lose like that with so much riding on it,” said disappointed captain Dan Boardman.
“We had a lot of opportunities in that first half where if we had capitalised it might have been a different story, but I can’t fault the effort.
“The boys were unreal today it’s just such a shame we couldn’t come away with the win.”
Bond has two games left of the regular season, starting with Brothers next weekend before wrapping up the regular season against Easts.
“We still have two games to go, we’ll need to dust ourselves off. We did a lot of good things in that game, we’ll just move on and see how the season goes.”
The Bull Sharks will be back on free to air channel 9Gem next weekend when Brothers host the match of the round at Brisbane’s Crosby Park.
Brothers slipped from third to fourth on the ladder after falling to Easts by two points on Saturday.
Bond University women’s feeder team the Coomera Crushers are the 2022 champions of the Queensland Suburban Rugby Union competition after winning the grand final against Redlands.
It was a tight battle throughout the decider however Coomera were composed under pressure to notch a 26-15 win at their home ground.
Three Bond women’s players have also been selected in the Australian Youth U18s squad for the World School Sevens.
Amahli Hala, Diana Waight and Ava Wereta will be competing in the event in New Zealand in December.
Bond Bull Sharks 21 University of Queensland 24
Bond Bull Sharks 22 University of Queensland 21
Bond Bull Sharks 5 University of Queensland 8
Bond Bull Sharks 19 University of Queensland 27
Bond Bull Sharks 7 University of Queensland 14
Women's first grade:
Bond Bull Sharks 24 University of Queensland 5