The Western Force took out the National Rugby Championship, defeating the Canberra Vikings
The Western Force took out the National Rugby Championship, defeating the Canberra Vikings

UNSW Elite Athlete Program members Andrew Deegan and Fergus Lee-Warner are celebrating after a weekend grand final win in the National Rugby Championship. It was the first National Rugby Championship title for the Western Force, who beat the Canberra Vikings in a dominant five-try second-half take the win 41-3.

Force captain Deegan said the final score of 41-3 wasn't a true indication of how close the game was, as the Force went into the break with just a 7-3 lead. But when they scored two tries in the 10 minutes after the break, they pushed forward for the win.Their overall tally of six tries earnt $600,000 for children's health, medical research and not-for-profit organisations thanks to a pledge made by Force owners Andrew and Nicola Forrest through their Minderoo Foundation.

"I think we just got our opportunities and we took them at the right time and we came away with the win there," Deegan said.

The Force were shaky before the break and could have gone further ahead, but halfback Isaak Fines knocked on before the line. Deegan admitted there were nerves at the break after their close finish in the game against Brisbane the previous week and the reputation of the Vikings for being strong finishers.

"Especially after their semi-final last week (when they fought back against the Fijian Drua), against the trend of our last 20 (minutes)," he said. "But I was really proud of the boys and the blokes that came off the bench, that whole second half we took our opportunities and we scored five tries there."

The Force's two tries and a penalty in the 10 minutes after the break brought their dominance to the front. Deegan's fellow UNSW student Lee-Warner scored the second try of the half when Heath Tessman flicked a one-handed pass to the lock who ran over the line to score.

Although they could easily have rested on their laurels in the final minutes of the match, the Force continued their assault on the Vikings' tryline, determined not to let the visitors score. A pair of late tries sealed the deal and they held the trophy aloft for the first time.

The match still raised an incredible $600,000 for Telethon which distributes funds to children's health, medical research and not-for-profit organisations.

Deegan now heads to the Melbourne Rebels to begin preseason for the 2020 Super Rugby season, while also continuing his Commerce degree at UNSW, while Lee-Warner will get stuck back into his studies in Construction Management and Property.

Full results

Western Force 41
Tries: Tessman 2, Lee-Warner, Jooste, Thrush, Placid
Conversions: Deegan 4
Penalties: Deegan

Canberra Vikings 3
Penalties: Lonergan