A dominate SUFC forward pack helped largely with their win over Eastwood
The opening of the 2016 Shute Shield last Saturday saw University off to an ideal start defeating last season’s premiers Eastwood 46-39 in a high scoring encounter.
The day also announced to Australian rugby the inaugural game at University’s new home ground – Sydney University Football Ground complete with a beautiful big grandstand containing bells, whistles and much more. The days of the adjacent cricket pitch giving players a dual loofah and mud body scrub are now just a distant thought. The surface was grassy, flat and fast for first class rugby. Waiting 3 hours for a Madonna concert was trifling compared to 5 years waiting for this jewel in the crown. Great effort to Sydney University Sport and Fitness for getting this great facility built!
Eastwood started the days points when their captain five eighth Ayoub shuffled to a thin blindside down the south east corner to score a converted try. The Students soon chipped back the deficit with an Angus Roberts penalty. However two can exploit a blindside. A quick tap penalty by centre Tom Carter five metres from the Eastwood tryline saw Eastwood napping and number 8 Jake Wainwright crashed over. An Eastwood sin binning saw that steadying influence of Tom Carter at centre take advantage. Carter straightened the attack and popped the ball to breakaway David Hickey who bobbed the pass onto the shadowing Wainwright who scored his second try.
A rolling maul from an Eastwood five metres out saw scores evened at 15-15 going into the break.
The bumper crowd were enjoying the action and with the vista of the old campus buildings and CBD skyline in the distance, a great atmosphere was in place.
The University forward pack was solid and the first minute of the second half saw University inflict every coaches worst nightmare- an early try. A series of pick and drives led by new Waratah prop Tom Robertson saw a pallet of blue and gold hoops target the south east corner resulting in big Matt Sandell scoring . University were on a roll. Sustained recycling saw the giant leprechaun breakaway Rohan O’Regan scoring to the left of the southern posts. Eastwood countered with a long ball try to their winger for a scoreline of 29-20.
But the narrowing scoreline oscillated again when the best try of the game came. University were attacking inside the Eastwood quarter and were rucking ferociously. The ball was spread to the open. When five eighth Ben Hughes passed to big second rower Tipoloma Kaveinga aka Loma some sublime skills were executed. Loma took the ball up and was swamped by two Eastwood defenders. Loma ever so gracefully looped his long arms around the defenders to his left and Angus Roberts in support scored under the posts for a 36-20 score.
Speedster Matt Narracott breaks through Eastwood defence
Eastwood refused to throw in the towel and scored two more tries to trail 39-32. However big Loma made ground and steadied the University attack again. The ruck was formed 10 metres out and the ball was passed to the left. Making the extra man was replacement fullback Christian Kagiassis. After a stilrling performance in second grade, the dynamic fullback was re energised after a quick fix of protein and carbs with some magiritsa – a traditional Greek soup filled with lamb offal-yum! Kagiassis received the ball from replacement prop Chris Talakai at high speed to dive over the line increasing the lead to 46-32. But the defending premiers refused to surrender and scored another converted try on the bell for a final score of 46-39.
Traditionally slow starters to the season the University smiles around the salubrious dressing room was plain to see rolling last year’s premiers. Tom Carter summed up the feeling after the game,” we haven’t beaten Eastwood first round since 2009. It means so much when we do it wearing this jersey!” Plenty of work still lies ahead but a good start to the season.
Next week University travel to the foot of the mountains on a super Saturday versus the mountain men of Penrith.