20 May 2023
By Bruce ‘China’ Lin
Last season’s grand final victory was reversed last Saturday at University as a fired up Gordon defeated University 41-28 at Camperdown. If University are to achieve back to back premierships they will need to eliminate second half errors.
Gordon was ruthless and. The tartan fifteen had a scary zeal that University were *mammon in blue and gold hoops that needed to be defeated to save the lower north shore!
University actually started on the right footing with two quick converted tries. First one some mesmerizing passing amongst backs Eddy King, Henry Clunies-Ross and Simon Kennewell who backed up and scored. The second one was orchestrated by captain Jack McCalman who took advantage of a loose lineout ball. Darting down the blind side McCalman linked up with halfback Tas Smith who scored in the corner. Conversion from out wide? Not a problem for fullback Jac Lloyd who potted them over with ease.
A 14-0 lead was showing on the scoreboard. But this did not last long. The big Gordon pack started to steamroll once they acquired field position inside the University quarter. Wave after wave of Gordon players rolled towards the University line. Eventually parity was achieved with two converted tries from picks and drives. Then Gordon spoilt the party with an added try before halftime from a five metre lineout.
University trailed 19-14 at the break. A good opportunity had now sailed off.
A moment of redemption appeared early in the second half. University this time were camped inside the Gordon quarter. Successive driving allowed the Students to knock on the Gordon doorstep. With the guile of one of his parents Cumnock cattle dogs Marmaduke, the University Captain Jack McCalman scooped up the ball from the ruck and dive over for a seven pointer. University were now leading 21-19.
But for reasons unknown, University took their foot off the accelerator again. Gaps appeared off rucks, tackles missed, lineouts mistimed and soon Gordon were scoring runaway tries. The score flattered them but University did not help by not playing to their normal discipline. Like the game against Eastern suburbs University allowed Gordon to get away from them. 41-21 was the scoreline late in the second half and University were trying to at least salvage a bonus point with a fourth try.
Five minutes from the end University achieved that point when a series of drives from a five metre lineout achieved a converted try from returning hooker Ciaran Loh.
Another converted try would accrue an additional bonus point being within seven of the final score. Alas this did not happen. A desperate series of ball movements saw it later breakdown with a knock on on inside the Gordon quarter. The final siren sounded and University had gone down 41-28.
Defeats are hard to digest especially ones at home. But hopefully lessons will be learnt for the remainder of the season.
Next week University are at home again against the unpredictable West Harbour Pirates.
*Mammon- wealth personified, regarded as an evil influence.