Sydney University vs Wests Rugby Union Club

Australian Club Championship

4 March 2023

By Bruce ‘China’ Lin

With three weeks till the start of the 2023 Shute Shield competition, Sydney University had a steamy hit out against 2022 Brisbane premiers the Wests Bulldogs Rugby Club at their Sci Fleet Stadium, Sylvan Road ground last Saturday. With a plethora of new personnel, the Students despite a lack of combinations managed to record a 45-19 victory.

The sub-tropical heat was telling as both sides were affected by errors early likened to handling a bar of wet Sunlight soap with loose ball carries. By eleven minutes into the half Wests managed to attack inside the University twenty two metre area.  Some sustained rucking by the Bulldogs were repelled by University. However, the constant barrage of green jerseys left the Students open side short. Wests spread the ball wide and it was inevitable that their winger scored.

The early lead to Wests was not a concern as University regrouped soon after. University camped deep inside the Wests half. Running towards the rock excavation -the white cliffs of Toowong,  University were exhausting the Wests players with controlled picking and driving. The ball was received by new fullback Hedderman. The Irishman from Cork applied a Riverdance step and jig to befuddle the opposition’s defence to score a converted try sweeter than a Clonakilty black pudding.

University sensing loose defence by Wests continued to apply their trademark formula of hard rucking. Two more tries were scored by this method. The last before halftime saw new Waratah signing that giant Hanchenschnitzel second rower Zac von Appen plough over for a half time lead of 19-12.

The afternoon was hot and head coach Damien Hill had to keep the next forty minutes simple to extract a victory in the exhausting conditions.

However, Wests recorded the first try of the second half with a rolling five metre maul. 19-19 but University changed scores soon after.

Like teenagers camped outside a Harry Styles concert, University were sweating on the Bulldogs goal line. Wave after wave of blue and gold hooped bodies were driving forward. Replacement prop big Brad Amitiuani powered over to have University lead 26-19.

University then commenced to give the ball some air time spreading it wide. In a moment of ad lib play a diagonal kick by club newcomer Joey Fowler hailing from the plains of Narrabri proved fruitful. The kick towards the club house touchline was regathered by University winger fast Eddy King. King streaked down the touchline with out a hand touching him to score in the corner.

The try fest continued with an excellent trying by back up five eighth Jullien Calliol another club debutant. Final score of 45-19 ended the day for an after game ale at the nearby Regatta Hotel. The Bernie Powers Cup held aloft by captain and breakaway Angus Allen was once again in the display cabinet of University.

Undoubtedly, it was early in the season for the Students and nothing to get over enthused about. But positives to come out was that the players are extremely fit. Set piece and combinations will develop as the season progresses.