29 July 2023
By Bruce ‘China’ Lin
The Agony and the Ecstasy. A 1965 film pitting Michelangelo battling with Pope Julius II. Camperdown witnessed once again a grinding battle with arch nemesis Eastwood. The last home game of the season saw Eastwood defeat University by a whisker 29-26.
Eastwood must have rote learning throughout their club to cross kick into the corners. After six minutes a kick to the corner saw their unmarked winger score a converted try from wide out.
But University provided a mirror image response when five eighth Jac Lloyd also executed a cross field kick for winger Simon Kennewell to also score out wide. Eastwood were leading 7-5 which quickly increased 10-5 after their five eighth Edmed opted for a penalty goal.
Halftime scores remained 10-5. University could have been ahead but amazingly the final pass to a spectacular sequence was ruled forward which perplexed the crowd.
Luck was not on the side of the Students as an early five metre lineout in the second half saw Eastwood score a try. But University kept on counterpunching with their own rolling maul try to hooker Tom Horton. 15-12 favoured Eastwood with only that earlier penalty separating the two combatants. University looked good in passages but valuable momentum would dissolve through unnecessary mistakes.
Eastwood gained some breathing space with a another try through pressure inside the University five metre area but then there was the return of …. The Rugby Messiah- the one and only inside centre Henry Clunies-Ross. Showing a clean pair of heels despite his gold opal card age eligibility, Clunies-Ross took intercepted a ball and ran the whole length of the field for a spectacular try. He later scored a double through a gaping gap off a ruck near the Eastwood line. This put University ahead 26-22 and the Clunies-Ross along with the University crowd into pure *gambol.
But University once again let Eastwood back into the game. Solid rucking by Eastwood inched their way towards the University line. A gap off the ruck beneath the posts gave them the easiest of tries. With the conversion they were ahead 29-26 with three minutes left on the clock.
Although there was a turnover at the kickoff University could not mount a last ditch rescue mission. The ball was knocked on. Eastwood reset and wound down the clock for a narrow victory. How University must rue the early penalty.
Although two bonus points were salvaged five points would have been so much more fruitful. Next week against last year’s grand finalists Gordon on their home turf Chatswood Oval will be a monumental battle. But the computations of other results may mean that University has a date with destiny next Saturday to see if they can sneak into the top six.
*Gambol– to jump and skip about in play.