In one of the most emotional games ever to take place at University Oval No: 1 Oval, Sydney University in the last 2 minutes ensured a hard fought victory against a gallant Parramatta. The game was held back 40 minutes as the preceding 2nd grade game was marred by a nasty injury suffered by Parramatta number 8 Andrew Vatuvei. The University Club’s prayers are with Andrew and his family. University wish Andrew a speedy and full recovery. More about this later.
Parramatta were on a mission to get into the University faces and they did just that. Their positive game plan paid off when a set move incorporating a cross field kick was collected by a flying breakaway Daniel Tamone for a try in the scoreboard corner. Parramatta were really bustling the Students into errors and midway through the half they were leading University 12 -0. A University pushover try allowed the Students to peg back some points. But on the eve of half time the Two Blues scored again by hammering down the grandstand corner to lead 17-7 at the break.
The second half hardly commenced ideally for the Students as once again Parramatta lifted by scoring that crucial early try under the posts. The Two Blues were riding on a wave of emotion and University were finding it extremely difficult to break down the barrier. University had not lost at home to Parramatta since 1998. Coach Nobby Malone was not about to let this occur but needed to find a solution fast and avoid the onset of achromotrichia giving a new dimension to Fifty Shades of Grey.
The cure came with the introduction of some fresh legs to rejuvenate the University attack which heralded the University comeback.
Conor O’Shea the replacement five eighth ignited the backline by making a break mid field. O’Shea applied a step, an Irish jig and some pace to pin his ears back before you could say “It’s a long way to Tipperary” to cross the line for a converted try. There was still a 10 point deficit but keen observers could sense that Parramatta was fatiguing and University were going to target this area.
University proceeded to play for field position which allowed replacement halfback Jock Merriman to show some cunning. With the ground now bathed under floodlights, Merriman exploited an opening off a ruck. When just about to be tackled, Merriman passed inside to his prop Tom Robertson who scored under the posts. Scores were 24-21 and there were still five minutes remaining – ample time for University to achieve a victory.
University’s godsend arrived with a five metre scrum from the Parramatta line. University were now dominant in the scrums and two sets were collapsed by the Parramatta pack. A final warning from the referee was not adhered to and upon the third scrum collapse a penalty try was awarded. Tears of joy were shed by University on and off the field while the brave Parramatta nearly achieved one of the upsets of the season.
The passionate ending was tempered by the earlier reference to the unfortunate injury to Andrew Vatuvei. University Oval resembled a field hospital as staff were urgently assisting Andrew with a pneumothorax condition – punctured lung. The incredible skills of University’s much loved and respected medico Dr Kath Rae and staff to stabilise Andrew before paramedics arrived was a credit to the University clubs duty of care for players. The guard of honour by players from both clubs as Andrew was conveyed by ambulance was inspiring. In an era where international sport is being tarnished with serious allegations of corruption, it is truly reassuring that good sportsmanship is alive in Sydney club rugby.
Next Friday night University will play Gordon at Chatswood Oval in a catch up washed out round.