Sydney University



By Bruce ‘China’ Lin

13 April 2024

Beautiful sunshine with a firm pitch and minimal breeze. Ideal conditions for an afternoon of first class rugby. The bumper crowd were not disappointed with a pulsating clash between University and Manly.

University were behind and fought back to lead until the last two minutes. A heart breaking penalty at the end resulted in Manly kicking a penalty goal to sneak away with a 31-29 victory.

University were first on the score board.  Halfback Theo Strang regathered a bouncing ball and surged downfield. The ball was then spread from right to left. Breakaway Sam Allsopp lurking along the northern flank received a looping ball to dive over in the corner. The try was unconverted.

But identical to last week University did not capitalize on their momentum and allowed Manly back into the game. Two quick tries were scored and converted for the Marlins to lead 14-5 mid way through the first half.  But University punched with another wide try by replacement winger Josh Calvert. The baby faced sniper winger Jack Matthews converted to have University trailing 14-12. But those slippery Marlins further increased their lead with another ad lib try through broken play to lead the Students 21-12 to end the first half.

After the break University started the second half with their foot on the accelerator. A five metre lineout gave University a converted try. Scores now 21-19. Another Manly try through back up and loose defence saw them surge ahead to 28-19.

But a short time later the skills of outside back Ronan Leahy was there for all to see. University were attacking thirty metres out from the Manly line.The ball was moved along the backline. Five eighth Sam Bignold passed to inside centre Eddie Poolman. Poolman then timed a magnificent short pass to Ronan Leahy running at pace. Leahy sliced through the defensive line and kid dynamite scored a swan diving try under the posts for Matthews to convert.  Leahy literally scored the try untouched and it was if Manly had succumbed momentarily to * Paresthesia.  University were now trailing by 28-26 and were gaining momentum.

University continued that momentum when a penalty for a high tackle was awarded about twenty five metres out from the Manly line. Matthews coolly kicked the penalty to have University in the lead 29-28.

The scoreboard clock was winding down and University were repelling the desperate Marlins hammering them. A perfect Garryowen kick saw Manly receive the ball and clobbered in what appeared to be a legitimate tackle by Matthews. But the referee deemed a penalty for a high tackle that baffled the crowd. Manly kicked for line and attacked deep inside the University quarter.

Then the moment where it felt like watching the anti climactic Hollywood movie Scott Pilgrim versus the World impacted the Students. The referee put the advantage arm out for Manly in front of the posts for an offside breach. The bell was rung but Manly kicked the simplest penalty goal to experience their own *Escape from Alcatraz to end the game. University were deflated but not humiliated.

Head coach Todd Louden was philosophical after the game. “ Not much went right for us today but we know what to do to go forward”, said Louden.

Next week there will be a titanic away game at Coogee against last year’s premiers Randwick.


*Paresthesia – The prickly feeling when your limb falls asleep.

*Scott Pilgrim versus the World – Forgettable 2010 movie where a young man must defeat his new girlfriend’s seven evil exes one by one in order to win her heart.

*Escape from Alcatraz- 1979 escapee movie based on three inmates escaping from the previously unescapable Alcatraz prison in San Francisco bay.