1 July 2023
By Bruce ‘China’ Lin
In ideal conditions at the picturesque North Sydney Oval, University would rue missed opportunities in their narrow 25-22 defeat to competition leaders Northern Suburbs.
University actually started the game strongly with an early penalty and then a spectacular try. The ball was spread wide towards the east and once again the presence of the flying acronym H C-R – Henry Clunies-Ross was announced. Finding the fountain of youth through consuming Taiwanese bubble tea, Clunies-Ross split the Norths defence and was tearing down the field. Looming off his left shoulder was fullback George Poolman who finished off the sequence with a try. 8-0 was the lead but Norths soon hit back.
Securing field position inside the Students quarter the Shoremen inched their way towards the goaline. Then there was a mad scramble likened to securing those rare Taylor Swift concert tickets. Body parts were flying everywhere and soon after a try was surprisingly awarded. 8-7 was now the scoreline.
Norths had acquired that valuable momentum and they were soon back in action pressuring University. Once inside the University quarter a gap was taken advantage of by their half back Duffy who made a swan dive into the corner for another five pointer. A penalty further increased their lead to 15-8.
Stung by this quick counter by Norths University gradually acquired some field position. A five metre lineout was executed and University received a converted try to equal the scoreline.
On the cusp of half time University had the ideal opportunity with another five metre lineout to hammer the Shoremen. However some mistiming in the lineout failed to deliver and both sides went into the break at 15-15.
The second half was dour for the majority of the game. Norths continued attacking and were rewarded a converted try when their fullback Burey outpaced the defence . Another penalty saw them up ten points with the game clock winding down. University were trying to play catch up but a number of mistakes allowed Norths to keep their head above water. During the last five minutes a glimmer of hope beckoned . Replacement flanker Mali Manukia pounced on a loose Norths ball and was rumbling towards the Norths posts. Fearing he would be clobbered into a McDonalds beef pattie, Manukia passed to his support number eight Hugh Bokenham. The lanky lock sprinted away for a converted try.
The game clock was showing just over two minutes were left and University needed a miracle with scores at 25-22. A series of scrum penalties allowed the Students back inside the Norths quarter. A phase of rucking saw University buildup for a grand finale. However a ruck was formed and amazingly the ball came spewing out towards Norths. Play was allowed to continue and Norths kicked the ball into touch as the fulltime bell sounded for a 25-22 victory. There was no *tintintabullation from University as the John Thornett Cup was received by Norths.
Next week University are back at Camperdown against the dangerous giant killers the Western Sydney Two Blues.
- Tintintabullation- the ringing of bells.