A number of milestones were achieved last Saturday between Sydney University and Northern Suburbs besides a 52-12 victory. 200 club games for Tom Carter and recognising the contribution of volunteers on ‘Rounders Day’ named after our beloved late club icon Steve Rowntree’s 27 years of dedicated service. There was also the business of farewelling University No.1 Oval that grand old dame of Sydney club rugby where 101 test Wallabies have donned the blue and gold hoops since 1863.
Mingling amongst the healthy crowd on this sunny July afternoon were some of the club alumni of yesteryear. Past Wallabies such as Dr Dick Tooth perched in the gold members area, Phil Waugh was imparting words to the players and that aficionado of French cuisine and wine, the ebullient Rupert Rosenblum could be seen shaking hands and chatting with all and sundry.
On such a significant day the Norths Shoremen were first to score. University were attacking and recycling the ball quickly. The ball was passed to the left when the Norths winger Woolf anticipated the ball and gladly received it. With all University personnel caught flat in the line the Norths pilferer ran the whole length of the field for an easy try.
But the converted try was short lived for Norths. University managed to secure the ball inside the Norths quarter following a bumping run by prop Tom Robertson. Constant recycling resulted in a short ball delivered to number eight Mitch Whiteley who scored a converted try.
The quick tap formula was soon after exploited when centre Jim Stewart took a tap from an awarded penalty. Carter received the ball and shifted the ball to the left. Tom Kingston injecting himself into the backline at fullback received the ball and applied some bewildering pace to score. University were focused on keeping the ball alive at every opportunity and shutting down the Norths attack through some strong resolute defence.
The 1971 flick Get Carter saw a bevy of villains try and neutralize a cockney gangster called Jack Carter. But University’s abrasive Carter, Tom was made of the same fabric as he was unstoppable. Receiving a ball following a bust by his partner Jim Stewart, a big swan dive was executed by Carter . This was just a reminder from Carter to the Norths supporters perched on the hill that he cared for them.
Further tries were scored courtesy of Kingston setting up winger Narracott in the hill corner and Carter again where he tore through a gap more abominable than a Donald Trump comb over on a good day! There was nothing stopping the Students power play. Captain David Hickey completed the first half when he ripped straight through a Norths defensive gap for a half time lead of 38-7.
The Students had finished hard and fast for the first half and there were expectations that they could continue their high powered rugby after the half time break.
Again Norths struck first against University when their forwards were cohesively picking and driving for a try. Their endeavours saw them avoid a calamitous one try fractured fairy tale. Norths players were trying hard to get over the advantage line but University were comprehensively out muscling them.
The Students did not continue the first half try fest but were more focused on holding out a gallant Norths team. After a sustained period in which University were pounding the Norths tryline, Angus Roberts at five eighth set up University’s seventh try and a return to University Oval for Waratahs skipper second rower Dave Dennis. Roberts ran towards the tryline but offloaded a short flat ball near the line for Dennis to smash over. Scoreline showed University leading 45-12 but University were still intent to increase the scoreline.
This came to fruition courtesy of Jim Stewart. The ball was being passed through the hands just inside the Norths half when it reached Stewart. On so many occasions during the season Stewart applied his signature right hand fend to a covering defender who grasped thin air. Stewart was in the clear and pinned his ears back to race 40 metres towards the line for the Students final try.
The remaining time saw some over exhuberance by the Students in their quest for an extra try. A series of knock-ons thwarted this mission and the full time siren sounded to finish the game and a moment in history.
University had won the Sydney club championship once again. Amongst the backslaps and smiles after the game there was still the main theme that the season was still not over. With semi finals next week for a crack at the 2015 title all club men were aware that there is still some hard work ahead.