Sydney University put the Manly Oval hoodoo behind them on Saturday, with the 43-29 result over the Marlins lifting them to third on the Shute Shield ladder after four rounds.

The Students can thank their tight five for gaining scrum ascendancy from the outset, with the move to shift prop Jeremy Tilse to the second-row to partner Will Skelton paying handsome dividends.

It’s been many a year since a Manly pack was shunted around on their home ground, but with Skelton packing on the tight side, the Students’ scrum erupted at each set piece, earning several tightheads and a number of kickable penalties.

And fullback Angus Roberts took full advantage, landing four penalty goals to go along with three conversions and a brace of tries for a 28-point haul. Halfback Jake Gordon also bagged two tries off the back of dominant scrums near the Marlins’ line, while hooker Folau Fainga’a rounded out a solid afternoon’s work with the Students’ fifth try.

Despite the scoreline and University’s territorial dominance, the hosts led for much of the afternoon, going to the break 19-18 in front, skipping out to 29-18 early in the second half, before finally being overhauled with 18 minutes remaining.

Indeed their opening to each half was from the textbook. They started the match with a try to flanker Ethan Uili in the second minute after 10-phase build-up that took them almost the length of the field.

The Students retaliated from the restart and two penalty goals from Roberts had them 6-5 ahead in the 12th minute.

They were on the attack again when a dropped pass resulted in Marlins fullback Brendan Hartmann collecting the scraps and sprinting 60m to score next to the posts. Five-eighth Sam Lane’s conversion put the hosts 12-6 in front.

The Students mounted another solid build-up from the restart, with Skelton heavily involved, and seven phases later Roberts crossed for his first try. His conversion put the Students ahead 13-12 after 18 minutes.

The Students held field position for the next 10 minutes before Manly caught them napping with a quick lineout throw to winger Josh Turner, who careered away to score from 60m out. Lane added the extras for a 19-13 scoreline.

With five to the break, the Students pulled a set move from a lineout 40m out, with five-eighth Ben Hughes putting outside-centre Jack Redden into a hole with a cut-out pass. He found Roberts in support to score his second try.

The combatants went to the break with Sydney University on top in the set pieces and holding territorial sway, but still behind on the scoreboard.

Manly opened the second half the same as the first, with Junior Palau diving on a left foot grubber from Lane after a solid build-up. The hosts went further ahead minutes later when Lane landed a penalty for a 29-18 margin.

Three massive scrums put the Students back in contention. The first drew a penalty, the second opened a clinical six-phase assault that ended on Manly’s line and a scrum feed to the hosts. The Students won a tighthead with number eight Jack Wainwright cleverly peeling off the back to send Gordon over for the first of his tries.

The sides traded territory until the 54th minute when Fainga’a scored on the end of some good lead-up work from Lane, inside-centre Tom Carter and winger Matthew Narracott.

At 29-28 the hosts were still in front but flanker Rohan O’Regan won a turnover for the Students which set up a six-phase assault by the forwards and scrum under the Manly posts. Wainwright once again used the solid platform to send Gordon over next to the posts. Roberts’ conversion put the Students in front 35-29. A further try and penalty goal sealed the deal for the Students, who are at home to Western Suburbs next Saturday.

This was a day for the tight five to take a bow, with Skelton also proving a handful in the open, along with Wainwright. Carter was in the thick of the action from the midfield and virtually played as an extra flanker in the closing stages. He also brought out the team spirit in the club by having First Grade form a guard-of-honour for Third Grade Colts at St Paul’s College Oval in the opening game of the day on which the club won six from seven.


Sydney Men’s premier competition – Round 4

First Grade: Sydney University 43 (Jake Gordon 2, Angus Roberts 2, Folau Faingaa tries; Angus Roberts 3 cons, 4 pen goals) defeated Manly 29 (Ethan Uili, Junior Palau, Josh Turner, Brendan Hartmann tries; Samuel Lane 3 cons, pen goal) at Manly Oval on Saturday.