Unbeaten Avondale in pursuit of Illawarra rugby perfection

Digging in: Avondale's (from left) Clint Kelly, Paul Tausala, Lipa Tuigamala, Andrew Duggan and coach Murray McDonald. Picture: Robert Peet
Digging in: Avondale's (from left) Clint Kelly, Paul Tausala, Lipa Tuigamala, Andrew Duggan and coach Murray McDonald. Picture: Robert Peet

THEY stand on the verge of greatness. 

A rare triumph as Illawarra’s invincibles. 

Avondale are the most dominant force in the region in the 21st century and their record has sent officials delving into the history books looking to teams who match their unbeaten feat.

Only Vikings have been able to deny the Wombats a bonus points in the two times they’ve met this season.

It’s otherwise a perfect year, which can only be spoiled by a Tech-Waratahs boilover on Saturday at Gerry Cappetta Field. 

“It would be a great achievement, but we’ve just got to worry about playing well,” coach Murray McDonald said, having demolished Camden 81-3 last weekend. 

“Tech have shown they’re a tough team to beat, their second half of the season has been great.

“Hopefully we can get the win and then we can worry about finals.”

If they pick-up maximum points on Saturday, Avondale will finish the season with 88 out of a possible 90. 

To compare, Vikings are second on 74 and have already passed 2016 minor premiers Shamrocks’ total of 72 with a round to play. 

And yet Avondale are two games clear of their Wollongong rivals. 

The Wombats have a points differential of 438, 187 points better than Vikings record. 

But Tech-Tahs remain a dangerous prospect, green shoots of success emerging this year after a torrid recent run. 

Finals beckon for all Avondale grades, with the Wombats and Shoalhaven chasing crucial bonus points in a battle for the minor premiership. 

Adding to the occasion on Saturday, flanker Clint Kelly will play his 300th game for the club in second grade.

Elsewhere, Vikings are away to Shoalies, with Bowral and reigning champions University – who will meet in an elimination final next week, face away games against Campbelltown and Kiama respectively. 

  • ILLAWARRA RUGBY

Avondale’s unbeaten run in 2017

R1 d Kiama 29-17

R2 d Vikings 22-17

R3 d Shoalhaven 35-0

R4 d University 33-19

R5 d Bowral 41-8

R6 d Campelltown 45-17

R7 d Shamrocks 26-17

R8 d Camden 36-19

R9 d Tech-Waratahs 62-14

R10 d Kiama 29-10

R11 d Vikings 23-18

R12 d Shoalhaven 27-7

R13 d University 53-14

R14 d Bowral 33-13

R15 d Campbelltown 51-13

R16 d Shamrocks 46-28

R17 d Camden 81-3

Round 18

Saturday (3pm)

AVONDALE v TECH-WARATAHS at Gerry Cappetta Field (3pm), CAMPBELLTOWN v BOWRAL at Campelltown Showground, KIAMA v UNIVERSITY at Vincentia Oval, SHOALHAVEN v VIKINGS at Shoalhaven Rugby Ground, SHAMROCKS v CAMDEN at Ocean Park. 

Ladder: AVONDALE 83, VIKINGS 74, BOWRAL 60, UNIVERSITY 53, Shamrocks 45, Shoalhaven 40, Kiama 26, Campbelltown 26, Tech-Waratahs 20, Camden 18.