Sydney University vs Manly
By Bruce ‘China’ Lin

The thirsty thirds encounter with a beefy Manly fifteen took place down at Forshaw Park last Sunday.  University prevailed in the end 20-18 but the win was not without an ounce of drama and tension.

The first half Manly literally monopolised all possession and field position. Their big forwards numbers 24 and 25 were playing a crash ball game. It was not until the twelfth minute that the Marlins winger scored after a period of recycling and spreading the ball through the hands.

Both teams traded penalties for the remainder of the half. 10-3 finished up the half time scoreline favouring Manly. Not enough for Manly to win and just enough for University to be within striking distance to gain ascendancy.

University coaches with the legal practice shingle Heslop and Leary must have channelled some inspiring words under the northern power lines at half time.  From the kickoff the Students game ignited their metamorphis as field position was gained.  University were also blessed by a one man advantage when a Marlins forward was binned for a Napoleon Perdis high facial treatment on a University player.

The numerical advantage was welcomed by University. The ball was kicked in touch five metres from the Manly line. From the lineout the ball was recycled and then let loose wide.  Winger Jaason Finau scored wide after the final pass and the commensurate conversion from Conor Lowndes took University to be even at 10-10.

With a man down University raised the pace by recycling the ball well. When they were positioned in the five metre area some rucking and mauling resulted in hooker Ben Carolan scurrying over beneath the uprights for a converted try. Manly with still a man in the bin kicked a penalty to ensure they were still capable of hitting back once their man returned from the cooler.

The game ebbed and flowed for a short while until Manly were able to secure a much needed bonus. University centre Josh King applied a late tackle on a Manly player and was sent off to Westfields Miranda Fair for ten minutes. With the bonus in numbers the Marlins worked their way towards the University 22 metre area. Some phase play later saw an almighty rolling maul comprising of players with some serious meat on the bone crash over for a try. 17 -18 now in favour of the Marlins with twelve minutes left.

The last ten minutes was edge of your seat stuff. Manly were holding back the desperate Students with everything they could muster. The clock was winding down and University were inside the Manly 22 metre area when disaster struck. A penalty was awarded to University for a Manly breach. The full time siren sounded and the penalty was the quintessential moment for 3rd Grades halfback Conor Lowndes to show that Irish people are lucky!

Lowndes gained some valuable tips during the week brainstorming with the clubs goal kicking wizard  Christian Kagiassis. The sight of an Irishman brainstorming with an Australian Greek would have been worthy of Australian Story. Lowndes lined up the kick to the right of the posts and sweetly hit the ball to register three points. The Manly Marlins were devastated to fall at the final hurdle. They did not look gutted the Marlins had been filleted!

It was nearly a perfect record for University over the weekend with only 2nd Colts losing narrowly to Norths 27-24. But due to the mechanics of the finals race all six University teams will be playing somewhere around Sydney.

Get to a suburban ground next week by car, ferry, bus or Uber. The blue and gold are going for a grand final berth!