AUSTRALIA: WATCH LIVE! The New South Wales Championship game – The 2015 Waratah Bowl

The undefeated Sydney University Lions will take on the West Sydney Pirates this Saturday in the 2015 New South Wales championship game – the Waratah Bowl in Sydney, Australia.

The Lions, who have won the past 13 NSW titles enter the game as heavy favorites after handing the Pirates their only loss of 2015 52-14 earlier in the season. The Lions offense averaged 63 points per game in the regular season while the defense gave up just under six points a contest. The Pirates will have their hands full.

Lions head coach Andrew Ogborne, who has guided his club to five New South Wales championships while also winning three as a player prior to that, has his team ready. Sydney U has in fact won the last 12 Waratah Bowls, a game inaugurated in 2003.

Starting quarterback Kiernan Dorney (#11), a veteran of 12 seasons, threw for 1,399 yards in 2015 (117 of 161) and 30 touchdowns and not a single interception. An amazing stat. His backfield partner is running back Alex Watson  (#40) who has scored a club record 105 rushing touchdowns. In 2015 he rushed for 1,093 yards and 19 touchdowns. Watson has twice won the Waratah Bowl MVP award, including for last season when he rushed for 201 yards on 29 carries in the game.

Australia - Sydney U Lions-Alex Watson-Kiernan Dorney

Kiernan Dorney & Alex Watson

Receiver Sam Darcy (#84) has played with the Lions since 2010 and was a quarterback for the championship U19 team before graduating to the seniors. In last week’s playoff game, he tied a club record by scoring six touchdowns in one game (on six receptions).

A key offensive linemen is Tsuyoshi Kittaka (#62), who is a student at Sydney University on exchange from Japan. Kittaka is studying economics and is part of an offensive line unit that has only given up five sacks on the season and has blocked for an offense which has gained 417 yards per game.

The defense is led by captain and strong safety, Keenan Mackett (#9). Mackett has been the club defensive MVP for the past two seasons and has led the team both in tackles and interceptions count for the last three years. This regular season, Mackett recorded 40 tackles, with six for loss, three fumble recoveries and seven interceptions. Mackett was also a member of the Sydney Uni U19 team.

Michael Rigney (#95) anchors the line at defensive tackle and is in his sixth season with the Lions. Rigney has made 135 tackles and 19 sacks in his career for the Lions.

Australia - West Sydney Pirates - action 2015 - War-Tacogue

David Ward & Marlou Tacugue

Pirates head coach Ian Taylor, Australian leader with 250 games under his belt as a head coach, has a veteran club of his own and is not daunted by the task.

Quarterback David Ward (#14),  who was injured earlier in the season,  has returned just prior to the playoffs. A veteran quarterback with great football knowledge and skills he has great ability to read the game and make adjustments as necessary. The Pirates rely on veteran running back Marlou Tacugue (#28) who creates problems for opposing defenses, particularly in space. Tacugue has also returned in 2015 after suffering a broken leg in 2014.

The defensive line is anchored by Shannon Lynch (#90). Lynch played in the Arena Football League in the United States for a couple of seasons and his experience is a key factor in a championship game. A new addition to the Pirates this season is linebacker Aaron Wotton (#58), who has injected tons of enthusiasm into the defensive unit to go along with his leadership abilities. Wotton is one of the Pirate’s defensive captains.

Kickoff: Saturday December 19, 6 PM (2 AM EST/8 AM CET)


Roger Kelly is an editor and a writer for AFI. A former PR Director the B.C. Lions of the Canadian Football League for 7 years, he now lives in Sweden writing about and scouting American Football throughout the world.