With a healthy crowd on hand last Saturday at Camperdown, Sydney University ushered the 2021 Shute Shield season by defeating the Hunter Wildfires by 56-24. 

The big Wildfires were stung after just fifty seconds when an inside ball was received by University’s hard running fullback Tim Clements, on his fiftieth 1st Grade game. Clements glided through a loosely marked channel to score a shock five pointer. There were no remnants of off season insomnia as University raced away to lead 28-0 after sixteen minutes with tries from the set pieces of rolling mauls, a scrum penalty try and a rush from a scrum.

The tradesman like University forwards working like club sponsor Michael Clements’ 3.2 litre (with 20 inch wheels) City Ford rangers were bullocking the Wildfires back to Parramatta Road. Second rower Will Cocker with the luxurious mane likened to a thick Berber rug, was pulverizing players back over their goal line with crunching tackles. The forwards were having a grand time running. Mrs Louise Sandell’s son veteran prop Matt made a break downfield and shadowing him was hooker Declan Moore. Moore raced away like a North American bison to increase the score line to 35-0. Just shy of halftime debutant centre Eddie Poolman took advantage of a quick penalty tap to end the first half at 42-0.

The shackles and disruptions of COVID-19 were disappearing last Saturday. We can have tunnels cheering the oncoming team. Every second row is not vacant in the grandstand. Popular prop Tom Osborne can once again sell his signature pork and chive dumplings at suburban farmers markets to put himself through his studies. The good ole days are slowly coming back.

The Students disciplined play continued during the second half. Some fast phases of recycling saw outside centre Henry Clunies-Ross score for a 49-0 score line. The Clunies-Ross try must have provided the stimulus for Hunter to engage from neutral as they engineered their first try.

Attacking inside the University quarter Hunter were taking a script from the University play book. Constant picking and driving by the green jerseys saw the Students precariously defend their line. The constant barrage could not be held indefinitely and Hunter bashed their way over for a converted try. Soon after another try was scored to reflect 49-12. Poolman scored a good individual try with some excellent running lines and pace to end University’s score for the day.  

Hunter were alive during these latter stages and never gave up to end their weekend at Uni by 56-24. Both sides will only get better as combinations develop throughout the season.

Next week University are at home again against the big West Harbour Pirates.