7 April 2023
By Bruce ‘China’ Lin
The day had holy significance and University sought some divine luck at the end against the abrasive Warringah. With the games hinging on a successful long range kick in the last seconds, University snuck away with a 15-13 victory as the kick fell short.
The Students bruised from last weeks defeat by the North’s Shoremen came out with a new resolve. Play was tight with solid defence from both teams. Halfway through the half Warringah were able to entrench themselves inside the University quarter. A plethora of possession was being enjoyed by the Rats. Like the rodents which terrorized our farmers, waves of green rodents were pounding the University line. The Students barriers finally burst when a pick and drive converted try was scored just off to the left of the posts.
University regrouped and commenced to string some phase play but the Warringah defensive line was solid. A late second half penalty increased the buffer to 10-0. At halftime both teams returned to the dressing rooms to plot their attack for the next half.
With imminent rain about to drench the precinct, University commenced on a mission to get the job done. From the kickoff a mistake by Warringah saw University regather the ball. Then the ruthless phase play was unleashed with picking and riving backpedaling Warringah. University forwards were grinding Warringah back to their posts. A surge by breakaway Aiden Wearne saw the lanky flanker smash over for a try. Wearne’s look of elation matched his post match dressing room Riverdance jig on his debut last season. The conversion was unsuccessful. Warringah still had that slender lead but for how long?
University with that momentum then commenced to shine and display *verisimilitude. The set pieces swayed to University’s favour with some big boppers now in the pack. Visitor from Britain Ed Scraggs added some prodigious bulk to the blindside and set piece. The return of University’s * großer Junge Zac von Appen was significant. The Waratahs second rower was ripping and tearing in rucks and mauls. With granite like arms honed from breading schnitzels in his spare time at Bavarian Bier cafes, von Appen was at the forefront. Some selective changes saw the impetus significantly shift. Hard running flanker Mali Manukia was making inroads.
Half back Tasman Smith was mixing it up shifting the ball amongst the forwards and backs. Young backs such as fullback Tom Morrison and inside centre Sione Taufui grew in confidence with long scything runs through the middle or resolute defence.
Smith was feeding his forwards and Warringah were tiring. A Warringah sin binning gave University that numerical advantage. When Smith saw the loosely marked ruck he fed it to the workhorse second rower Luke Ratcliff. Ratcliff saw the opening and took off like a Ferrari tearing towards the posts to score a converted try.
University acquired some more breathing space with a penalty but that was whittled away with a long range penalty. The game clock was winding down and the scoreline just favoured University 15-13. University was given a penalty with a minute remaining but surprisingly did not use the clock with tight play. A penalty for not releasing just inside their half gave Warringah the ending which only Hollywood could produce.
Decision time for the Rats kick for line and hope for a try or points inside the University half? Or kick a long range penalty to end the day? The long range kick was the decider. The kick was positioned and all eyes were focused on the kicker . The Rats would enjoy a piece of Stilton cheese or University would motor down Pittwater Road in a melancholy state.
The ball was struck, and all eyes were focused on its curved flight. But the ball in its trajectory commenced to dip and fell short into the arms of winger Eddy King who jubilantly kicked the ball into the nearby hill l. The bell had just sounded and as Porky Pig would sign off @#*^%$## that’s all folks!…… to end the game with a scoreline of 15-13 to University.
University coaches were satisfied with the result compared to last week. Head coach Damien Hill saw only further improvements can come. “A big improvement from last week. It was a battle in the first half. But we fought for eighty minutes and every player contributed.”
Forward coach Mark Bakewell was equal in praise, “Last week the forwards hardly played a minute together. This week we got that cohesion back which laid the platform. I’m really proud of the team after last week disappointment.”
Next Saturday University are at home against a very dangerous and undefeated Hunter Wildfires.
- Verisimilitude: An appearance of being true
- großer Junge: German for big boy