The air was crisp, the Shire was shining and the perfect Saturday saw University victorious by 47-24 last Saturday at Forshaw Rugby Park Sylvania.
It was no armchair ride for the Students as skirmishes and big hits sprouted throughout the game.
Only two minutes were played when University started to register on the scoreboard. Attacking outside the Souths twenty two area, returning second rower Lachie Swinton decided to dust the cob webs off by bursting off a ruck. Only problem for Souths they forgot to move up resulting in Swinton smashing his way through the defence scoring beneath the posts for a converted try.
Thereafter University commenced to build phases causing headaches for the Souths defenders. University refused to die with the ball and played to the whistle. The ball was bobbing inside the Rebels quarter and some quick hands allowed Captain Guy Porter to dive in the corner to increase the scoreline to 12-0 .
The forwards were really starting to flex the muscles and the next try typified this. More loose off a ruck allowed second rower Dave McDuling an opportunity to make a break. Humming his favourite song Nancy Sinatra’s 1966 hit These boots are made for walkin, McDuling started to trample through the defenders. In support was prop Matt Sandell who showed a turn of speed not seen since his days as a Mudgee Wombat. Sandell then offloaded to flanker Josh Kemeny who decided to apply some finishing speed to score a great try under the posts. The conversion elevated the scoreline to 19-0.
The Rebels were hurting and to their credit decided to knuckle down. The fightback came with a blindside stab kick catching University offguard. Souths number eight Lawson collected the ball to score a converted try. Soon after Souths caught University napping again down the blind. This time it was former University player fullback Christian Kagiassis who made the dart to change the scoreline to score 19-12.
University maintained the buffer with a trademark five metre rolling maul scored by hooker Declan Moore. 26-12 was the scoreline but Souths were now matching University in the forwards and took a leaf out of the University playbook. A five metre lineout was formed and Souths commenced the drive after it was brought down. With the added impetus of extra backs joining the maul it resembled a mad rush at a David Jones sale. The Students could not hold the weight, changing the score to 26-17 at the halftime break.
Souths were going toe to toe with the Students and a big effort would be required by University for the next forty minutes.
University from the second half allowed the Rebels back into the game with another try causing the lead to whittle down to only seven points. Souths could smell a chance to skewer the Students but fortunately this did not arrive. Another University rolling maul was applied for a converted try. 33-24 and University now had some breathing space.
However the next twenty minutes was a succession of long delays characterised by constant scrum resets. The sleep inducing juncture was broken when inside the Souths twenty two the ball was spread to the open. Guy Porter took a high ball but looping behind him was inside centre Will McDonnell who scored under the posts to the applause of the University supporters.
Souths were desperate to peg back the scoreline but the Students remained resolute. A stroke of luck befell University near the conclusion as a penalty allowed them to camp inside the Souths quarter. Some continual rucking later saw replacement prop Charlie Chucky Hancock back up to score a converted try. 47-24 was the final score. Getting a win at Forshaw is welcome anytime when confronting a traditionally pugnacious opposition.
A relieved coach Robert Taylor saw the win as a bonus during the latter half of the season. “It’s a good effort to come here. Souths didn’t have much to play for but still came here and took it to us” said Taylor. Up and coming prop Angus Bell was also quietly absorbing the moment. “It means a lot to play 1st Grade after leaving school-it’s a real honour. Hopefully I can help the team get to the Grand Final,” said Bell.
The days celebrations continued after dark with the team honouring Dave McDuling’s 100 grade games milsteone. Plus the highlight was the return of the social directors – Connor & Pat O’Doherty’s mother Dr Margaret and Will McDonnell’s parents Peter and Maria. Retelling tales of life in the Emerald Isle and the Australian outback respectively whilst simultaneously attempting to master slippery egg noodles and dumplings with chopsticks at an exclusive southern Sydney venue.
Next week the club is back at University for our Rounders Day to recognise club volunteers. We once again go head to head with arch rivals Northern Suburbs.