Sydney University vs Gordon
By Bruce ‘China’ Lin

University’s flame to qualify for the semi finals still flickered last Saturday. But the 27-25 victory was nearly extinguished right up to the full time bell by a tenacious Gordon.

With Sydney once again blessed with glorious sunshine an added bonus greeted those arriving early to Chatswood Oval.  Players were warming up to the sounds and sights of a Chinese expatriates senior citizens group. Demonstrating tai chi exercises and an exotic fan dance brought new colour to Sydney club rugby.

But these colourful sights were soon forgotten as University’s mission was to keep their season alive. On paper University looked a fast side but Gordon were the first to come out blazing with an early penalty and a try.

University’s angst was compounded when a penalty touch finder failed to clear the side line.  Gordon regathered, countered and attacked down a barren blindside eventually scoring to lead 15-0.

Gordon was bustling and counter rucking University off their ball. University attacking raids broke down and frustration brewed. Building continuity was a scarce commodity.

The shackles were finally removed when fullback Tom Kingston decided enough was enough. A Gordon clearing kick was regathered by Kingston who ran hard towards Gordon. Kingston split the defence and passed to his support outside centre Chris Ingate. Ingate continued down field and gave the final pass to winger Greg Jeloudev who powered over for University’s first points with a converted try.

Shortly after half time sounded and a 15-7 deficit faced the Students going into the sheds. There was no time to go shopping at Chatswood Chase. University were playing for their season in the next forty minutes.

The start of the second half showed University playing with more purpose. Continuity was now being built and the blue and gold hoops were able to camp themselves inside the Gordon quarter. An infringement in this zone was converted into points by University’s goal kicking winger Kagiassis to narrow the score to 15-10. This was the impetus needed by University. Halfback Daniel Calavassy soon after trailed a dominant five metre scrum to dart over. The conversion was unsuccessful but both teams were level at 15-15.

The Highlanders had other ideas to wreck University’s Saturday afternoon. Their five eighth Toeta was cleverly kicking for field position or chipping a neat ball behind the Students line. A ball was spread wide by the tartans and their runaway winger Balekana ran down the northern touch line scoring and further increasing his mantle as the competitions highest try scorer.

Gordon’s 20-15 lead quickly changed when again University’s Jeloudev received the final pass out wide to score. The seesawing scoreline was altered once again after Gordon scored from a five metre rolling maul followed the sin binning of second rower Lachie Swinton. Six minutes remained on the clock and University needed some luck quick and fast.

This came from a dominant surge off a ruck by stand in captain second rower Dave McDuling. McDuling gained valuable field position 10 metres out from Gordon’s tryline.

Some fierce rucking by the Students saw the ball received by replacement number eight Jack McCalman.  Young Jack despite playing a full second grade game was energised with the protein from his parents legendary free range organic farm eggs burst off a ruck to crash over. Kagiassis’ conversion saw University in front 27-25 with two minutes left on the clock.

Gordon from the kick-off were focused on securing the ball to unleash all out attack against the Students. The ball was secured from the kick-off and Gordon commenced to try and inch their way towards the University tryline. Any mistake or penalty by University would be fatal.

Gordon had reached the University 22 metre area and University faithful in the stand were on the edge of their seats. But a turnover in a ruck brought a sigh of relief and University safely kicked the ball dead to end a harrowing encounter. Not the prettiest of University victories. But a bonus point victory resembling Hollywood tough guy actor Jack Palance’s face is welcome at this stage of the season.  

Head Coach Tim Davidson was a relieved man to come away with a victory. “Everything was against you. You never died. We fought tooth and nail and got there.” said Davidson addressing the team after the game.

Next week all University teams with finish their regular season against Parramatta at Merrylands RSL Park Granville.