Sydney University



27 August 2023

By Bruce ‘China’ Lin

Rugby can indeed be cruel to the vanquished. None more so than the Students in their titanic battle with minor premiers Warringah in yesterday’s grandfinal at Concord Oval. On the cusp of full time University lost their battle succumbing to Warringah 35-31.

Warringah with their well drilled team took ten minutes to score first points. Enjoying a wealth of field position a Warringah ball was shifted quickly to the eastern touchline allowing their winger to score a converted try in the corner for an early 7-0 lead.

But University were unperturbed . A five metre lineout was the precise moment to execute a little touch of *precipitousness. The lineout was formed but the point of drive was immediately shifted to number two in the lineout secondrower Clem Halohalo. The drive saw a blue and gold five rumbling over two little green rats. The inevitable result saw a try converted by Narrabri’s five eighth Joey Fowler bringing scores 7-7.

But minor premiers Warringah flexed their muscles and two tries before halftime saw them surge ahead. But University scored a crucial converted try just before halftime to give their campaign some oxygen to trail 21-14 at the break.

You could see the huddle form at the break with all University personnel forming a tight circle. This determination and focus transcended into the second half where it was an energy sapping battle between two combatants.

The pace of the game lifted and University were really allowing the ball some width. Breakaway Harry Davis scored a try following some quick passing to the wing. The lead fluctuated more than a Dow Jones index. Then a knock on in goal was capitalized by the Rats and they were ahead 28-26.

But University obtained some field position inside the Rats quarter and applied some sustained rucking to press on the Warringah line. When a ruck was formed halfback Dan Nelson showed his guile behind the maul. Sensing Nelson would shift the ball wide, instead he ran to the side of the ruck as it was thinly defended. A burrow through players gave Nelson a try to allow University to lead Warringah 31-28.

The last eight minutes did nothing to quell one’s blood pressure and both sides continued trying to get the upper hand over each other. University’s defence was holding firm. With some luck by stealing line out ball University were winding down the clock. A late rumbling run by prop Jamie Clarke gave University some breathing space. A penalty with two minutes left was like winning the lottery. University were winding down the clock with ever so careful rucks. But then tragedy struck a penalty which only a level 3 referee could comprehend was given against University. Warringah sought a touch finder and rolled the dice for the last time.

From the lineout Warringah were spreading the ball to all corners. University were desperately hanging on. With time up Warringah shifted to the open and their big tighthead prop was looming five metres out. Receiving the ball the big man surged over the line and University were unable to hold him up to seal an incredible victory.

A wave of green rodent supporters surged onto the field to temporarily halt play. The conversion once the ground was clear saw Warringah victorious by 35-31. University players were devastated and lay exhausted on the ground seeing them lose a game at the final moment.

Congratulations to Warringah. Rugby is an eighty minute game and they played to the whistle. To University they will learn from this heartbreaking moment. Incredible effort by all players during the tailend of the season. Great effort by coaches Parks and Coolican to get their charges to the big dance. Unfortunately luck in the end did not fall their way.


*Precipitousness – Surprise