Sydney University Lions Capture 13th Straight New South Wales Title in Australia

Running back Alex Watson (game MVP) rumbled for 142 yards and a touchdown in leading the Sydney University Lions to a 36-18 come from behind victory over the surprisingly stubborn West Sydney Pirates in the Waratah Bowl emblematic of the New South Wales championship in Australia.

The Lions accumulated 397 yards in offense much of it in the second half as they finally overcame a tough Pirates defense. The Pirates held an 18-14 lead until late in the third quarter when Watson finally came untracked and quarterback Kiernan Dorney began finding his receivers on deep vertical routes. The Lions scored two touchdowns in the last minute of the third to take the wind out of the Pirates sails.

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Kiernan Dorney

Dorney threw two touchdown passes and ran one in himself in the win.

It was a tale of two halves as the two teams traded punches in the first half. The Lions took an early 7-0 lead as Dorney carried the ball in from 13 yards out at the five minute mark of the first quarter.

But the Pirates responded as backup quarterback Nicholas Kalebic found Zach Hughes for a 2 yard touchdown pass to pull West Sydney to within 7-6.

Dorney then led Sydney U on a 74 yard, six play drive hitting Josh Yerrell from 15 yards out to extend the lead to 14-6. But the Pirates responded again with starting quarterback David Ward engineering his own long drive from the 14 yard line. Six plays later Albert Bernard pounded the ball in from the six yard line and West Sydney pulled to 14-12.

Both teams played tough defense and the score remained 14-12 at the break.

Surprisingly, the Pirates took the lead in the second half as Kalebic, back in at quarterback, marched his team methodically down the field scoring the go ahead touchdown from the six yard line giving West Sydney an 18-14 lead midway through the third quarter.

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Nicholas Kalebic

However, Watson, now began gaining momentum, finally scored on a three yard run, scoring the two point conversion as well and the Lions regained the lead 22-18.

Lions defensive back Keenan Mackett picked off a David Ward pass on the next series and Dorney made the Pirates pay hitting Sam Darcy for  a 42 yard touchdown and Sydney U jumped out to a 29-18 lead at the end of the third period.

The stunned Pirates could not get untracked after that and with Watson running the ball, the Lions maintained possession much of the fourth quarter. Ward was picked off again with three minutes left by defensive back Scott Thompson who took it into the end zone from 25 yards out giving the Sydney University Lions their 13th straight Waratah Bowl win 36-18.

Watch the highlights here.

All photos: Valentine Sports Photography.

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.