Devils Crowned Champions of Beijing in Cup Final Thriller
Saturday November 9th Beijing Cup Final will go down in Devils history as a day where the men in red showed outstanding composure, confidence and determination against a formidable Aardvarks opponent. A bruising 80 minutes ended in jubilation as a try on the final play of the game gave the Devils a narrow 18-17 victory.
The Devils started the stronger outfit, with dominant scrummaging by Taylor Muller, Steve Lynch and Joe Rodden setting a platform for the backs and an eventual Matt Maynard score. A conversion by the in-form Andrew Whitestone put the score at 7-0. A combination of handling errors, miscommunication and strong Aardvark pressure at the breakdown followed, leading to multiple penalties. The score at half-time: 7-3.
While the first half could be described as a bruising war of attrition between two heavy hitting packs and versatile back lines, the second half simply came down to who wanted it more. A Whitestone penalty put the score to 10-3, before an Aardvarks onslaught leveled the scores at 10-10. The battle for the breakdown continued to dominate, with a further Whitestone penalty edging the Devils in front at 13-10 before one of the game’s most defining moments. As time ran low, a controversial penalty reversal gave the Aardvarks a platform to camp on the Devils line and eventually take the lead at 17-13 with just ten minutes remaining.
The story of this day comes down to this final ten minutes. With momentum on their side, the Aardvarks continued to exert pressure and aggression in the tackle, which resulted in two missed Devils try scoring opportunities. Yet with the odds stacked against them in the last play of the game, the boys remained calm and continued to play. It started with strong carries by the tireless wrecking ball of Poese To’omata which set a platform on the 22. On the far side of the pitch, with a sea of blue in front of him, Whitestone spun it to Peter Buxton, who elegantly (yes elegantly) drew his man and offloaded to Mike Rust. Using his hawkish eye for space and experience, Rust spun it wide once more to the calmest man in Beijing, Dylan Parry, who rounded his opposite man to touch down in the corner and send ISB into a frenzy. Final score on the day was 18-17.
Full credit must go to a hugely improved Aardvarks side, who showed incredible heart for 80 minutes and gracefulness in defeat after the game.
But Autumn 2019 belonged to the Devils! The boys now await the season’s final test, a Yellow Sea Cup showdown against Shanghai!