In another top of the table showdown, University went toe to toe with Manly last Saturday at Camperdown. But playing the majority of the game a man down, University had an uphill battle. It was only in the last four minutes that Manly succeeded in breaching the Students defences to achieve their ultimate victory. With former University brains trust in charge at Manly, there was added interest in today’s game.

Against the wind in the first half University played a dour game against an abrasive Manly fifteen. The healthy crowd around the ground might have thought both teams were afflicted with spuddle *. There was no give and take from both teams until the twenty eighth minute.

A moment of continuity suddenly befell the ground with University attacking down the blindside. An inside ball to the trailing centre Eddie Poolman saw him score a clever try. The five nil lead soon changed when Manly opted for a penalty.

Then ten minutes before halftime UFC came to Camperdown. A melee erupted inside the University quarter. There were more arms and legs than a fishmongers octopus display as bodies were flying everywhere. Towering  second rower Zac von Appen was brushing off Manly players from his frame like when he stacked pallets one handed during his school holidays at his family’s Black Forest  cuckoo clock factory. The end result did not suit University as Captain and No.8 Mitch Whiteley was red carded for over vigorously touching jersey lycra!

University held out to half time despite one man down. Running with the wind in the second half was some respite from the difficult task ahead.

The second half started again slowly but University was able to acquire some field position. A penalty awarded drew on the guile of halfback Banjo Travers to the surface. Instead of opting for a set piece play, Travers quickly tapped the ball and darted to the blindside. Linking up with his flyhalf, Ben Hughes who dived over in the corner. The conversion was unsuccessful and Manly with the numerical advantage were still in the box seat.

The University defence was quite resolute and repelled wave after wave of Manly raids. Manly were only able to kick an additional penalty to trail 10-6. The Students luck finally ran out less than six minutes from the end, when James Dargaville was sent from the field for not rolling away, Manly with a 2-man advantage opted for the rolling maul, eventually crashing over. 13-10 the score was now in their favour.

University was running out of time and had to chance their arms. Securing possession of the ball was paramount from the kickoff but the Students failed in this mission. Manly had the momentum and made a mid field burst against the tiring University defence. The Manly attack was stopped just inside the five-metre zone. Some recycling saw Manly crash over the try line as the full-time bell sounded. University were brave but the entire second half with one man down proved University’s downfall at the end. 20-10 was the final score but there was nothing to be disgraced about the loss.

This feeling was echoed by coaches Hedger and Bakewell after the game.”I’m actually really proud of the effort. With a man down and only one fresh reserve we held them until the last four minutes,” said Sean Hedger. Mark Bakewell although questioning the red carding of Mitch Whiteley was philosophical at the end of play. “An outstanding performance by the team. We tried our guts out today.”

A Novocastrian road trip is scheduled for next week when University face the resurgent Hunter Widfires in Newcastle.

*Spuddle – to work feebly and ineffectively, because your mind is elsewhere or you haven’t quite woken up yet.