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Harlequins edged out Defence in a nail-biting thriller to book Big Dance

The 2023 Pepsi Capital Rugby Union Preliminary Final blockbuster showdown between the Harlequins and Defence, saw the reigning Premiers (Harlequins) edging out the men in green (Defence) with a 14-12 victory over the weekend at Bava Park, Port Moresby.

The arm-wrestle and intensity of the game were felt in the opening minutes of the contest. Both sides rose to the occasion and delivered an entertaining rugby spectacle. They indeed lived up to the hype and expectations of the fans.

Around the 20th minute of the game, Harlequins got the penalty outside of Defence's 20-meter line. They opted to take the penalty shot. The kicker successfully nailed the conversion to give his side a 3-point lead.

A few minutes later, Harlequins got another penalty at the Defence red-zone. They chose to take

the penalty shot. The kicker slotted the conversion successfully and extended the lead to 6-0.

The battle continued until on the stroke of half-time, Harlequins crossed over the line for their first try. The conversion was unsuccessful, leaving the half-time scores at 11-0, in favor of the Harlequins.

In the second half, the momentum swung in Defence's favor. They were dominating ball possession and field territory. However, they failed to turn those try-scoring opportunities into points.

Though Harlequins lost the rhythm and ascendency in the second stanza, they held their resolve and defended their line relentlessly. Defence continuous onslaught did not deter them. They held their ground and defended courageously.

Both teams had their chances to score tries, but the costly errors ruined the momentum of the

game, especially in the second half.

With repeated field territory, Defence finally managed to break through Harlequins’ tiring defense and scored their first try. And right before the full-time siren sounded, Defence scored again on the corner. With two successful conversions, the deficit was reduced to 2 points (14-12).

The Defence tried to make a late comeback, but time was not on their side. Nonetheless, it was a grandstand finish with an edge-of-the-seat stuff.

Harlequins will meet Brothers in the decider this weekend. These two sides met in the big dance last season and Harlequins defeated Brothers to claim the title.

Given the fact that it will be a grand final rematch, the stakes are higher for both teams. The reigning Premiers will be eager to defend their title, while the undefeated Brothers are on a mission to redeem themselves and reclaim the title. The Grand Final rematch should be a cracker.

Meanwhile, in the Women’s Open Preliminary Final, Harlequins put on a masterclass performance

and thrashed Novettes with a comprehensive victory of 33-7 to book the grand final spot. Harlequins will take on the Juggernauts in the Grand Final.

These two Grand Final fixtures (both men and women) will be held at the Santos National Football Stadium this Saturday, including the Under 19 and Under 23 Grand Finals, respectively. Prepare your popcorn and be ready to get entertained by the Grand Finalists of the 2023 Pepsi CRU competition.

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