Wombats shift to another gear

ILLAWARRA RUGBY

Avondale are showing no signs of mental scarring from last year's grand final failure, confidently overcoming University 24-16 on Saturday at University Oval.

The Wombats held a five-point lead before Joe Aiono's late penalty goal sealed his side's second win from as many games.

Last season's grand final loss to Camden was the fifth time in six years that Avondale came up short in the premiership decider.

It remains to be seen if they get a shot at redemption on the big stage this year but the Wombats have played with their usual flair in the opening rounds.

"Last year is all under the carpet now and we'll just try again this year," Avondale coach James Patrick said.

"We'll just carry on doing what we're doing, get fitter and keep working on things.

"We've pretty much kept the whole squad intact and added a couple of good young guys," he said.

"We had only two guys playing against Uni that didn't play in the grand final."

Winger Ryan Lonsdale scored Avondale's first try before Andre Itula crossed. Aiono converted both tries for a 14-0 half-time lead.

Uni fullback Don Nepia cut into the lead with consecutive penalties but the visitors replied with a rare try from prop Roger Cairns.

Aiono's conversion made it 21-6.

Nepia bridged the gap with a penalty goal and Uni were within striking distance after Paul Tuala scored a try under the posts with 20 minutes remaining.

Aiono, however, struck the knockout blow with a penalty goal with five minutes to play.

"It was a very tough game," Patrick said. "It was like playing against yourself, because we were playing the same game.

"We're fans of the expansive game and they are too ... we kind of cancelled each other out. There was good defence and good attack. It had a bit of everything."

Avondale take on winless Shoalhaven this weekend.

Camden romped to a 45-12 win over Bowral, Shamrocks were ruthless in their 43-0 win over Shoalhaven while Kiama beat Tech Waratahs 27-10.

Ladder

 Camden 10, Avondale 9, Vikings, Shamrocks 5, Kiama 4, Uni, Bowral, Shoalhaven, Tech Waratahs

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