In a game of contrasting halves, Southern Districts ultimately snatched the jaws of defeat with an extra time penalty goal. Five eighth Mc Gregors 40 metre penalty saw them truncate the score to defeat University 28-26 in Sundays semi final.
University were dominant in the first half with the Students recycling possession rapidly. Both sides were trading early penalties for a slight lead to the Students of 6-3.
When University applied the pressure inside the Rebels quarter the first try arrived. A five metre scrum was shifted to the left and number eight Pat McCutcheon ran hard to plant the ball over the line for a converted try to increase the scoreline to 13-3.
Last weeks’ man of the moment Tom Carter continued where he left off for the next University try. Carter straightened the attack and passed to his outside partner Jim Stewart who split the defence to score another converted try.
University maintained a strong defensive line repelling any raids. Souths were tryless at the break a rare occurrence at their southern rugby fortress or the Shute Shields new planet Kepler 452B.
You would naturally think University would continue the high tempo first half after the break but Souths had other ideas. University could only kick an early penalty to lead 23-3 before a remarkable comeback from Souths. Some crucial defensive glitches were devastating for the Students.
Loose kicks and missed tackles were gladly received by the Souths dangerous outside backs who scored three broken field tries. Soon the score showed University just ahead 23-22. But soon penalties altered the scoreline to 25-23 favouring Souths with less than 15 minutes remaining.
University second half circadian dysrthymia was exploited by the Rebels. But a rare moment of luck came about 2 minutes from the end. University were attacking close to the Souths line when replacement prop Paddy Ryan attempted to crash over the line and knocked on. However the referee blew a penalty for offside play. Roberts potted the penalty for a lead of 26-25 with a minute remaining.
Had Souths consulted a Haitian witch doctor behind the goal posts for the next sequence of play? After the kickoff University forfeited possession from a maul and then concede a heartbreaking penalty from a wheeled scrum. McGregor lined the kick and by the sound of the roar Souths were winners in an epic second half. It seemed groundhog day had befallen once again in the last play of the day between University and the Souths Rebels.
Undoubtedly it was disappointing to lose in that manner but the true test of University’s character will be at Manly Oval next Saturday in a do or die battle against the big Manly Marlins.