Sydney University


West Harbour

27 May 2023

By Bruce ‘China’ Lin

A grinding much valued win would be best to describe University’s 21-17 victory last Saturday. Their opponents the West Harbour Pirates always physical and unpredictable were once again showing these hallmarks last Saturday at University.

The hallmarks looked good early for the Students. Pressing inside the Pirates quarter the ball was swung to the open. Fullback Sam Bignold encouraged by his travelling family cheer squad slipped an ever so delicate ball to outside centre the father figure of the Shute Shield Henry Clunies-Ross. Henry slid through this gap and linked with his winger Sepesa Loga-Tarogi. The descendant from the Tahitian Royal family darted to the corner. Welsh kicking influencer Jac Lloyd converted from out wide and University were ahead 7-0 after three minutes.

With a spring and jig in their step University increased the tempo. Camping themselves inside the Wests half for extended periods University were building momentum. Again the ball was given width. This time inside centre Simon Kennewell showed his experience as an Australian sevens player. Kennewell strode out and palmed off three players in a bullocking run through the middle to score under the posts for another seven pointer. A 14-0 lead was handy but never underestimate the opposition.

University were acquitting themselves well. During the latter stages of the half there was an extended period in which University had to defend a constant barrage of Pirate raids.

Despite this defence the dam finally fractured on the cusp of half time when West Harbour scored. The try was unconverted and both sides went into the break facing a scoreline with University ahead 14-5.

With the ideal conditions and running towards Parramatta Road one would think the Students would commence to unleash absolute *poikilotherm to make amends after last week’s disappointment. But alas University are missing that second half spark to be clinical and put away the opposition.

Wests quickly scored a try to reduce the difference to only four points. From a scintillating dart down the northern touchline a clever chip and chase at the end saw their winger touch down in the far corner.

University required breathing space as the momentum had clearly shifted. This relief came once again from the centre pairing of Kennewell and Clunies-Ross. From a set piece inside the Wests quarter the ball was received by Kennewell. If it worked once it might work again so Kennewell decided to run roughshod through the middle of the Pirate defenders. The run splintered the defence allowing Kennewell to link up with Clunies-Ross who ran away to score. Five eighth Lloyd converted the try and University were seven points ahead but still not enough to close out the game.

This scenario became even harder when second rower the big chap Ed Scragg was sin binned for an obscure maul offence defending the University line. The offence even warranted a penalty try which flabbergasted a portion of the crowd. With eight minutes remaining this was the perfect opportunity for Wests to pounce and apply enormous pressure on University. It would be absolutely fatal for University to concede a penalty so that the Pirates boarding party could raid the Students goaline.

But as if the first fifteen chanted a *Zoroastrian prayer after Scraggs was binned to stand firm in the face of adversity the Students held out with a man down. A turnover from Wests allowed University to wind down the clock with no mistake picks and drives. The bell sounded and Jac Lloyd kicked the ball into touch to end the game with a 21-17 victory.

The physicality and exhaustion of the eighty minutes was etched on the faces of University personnel after the game. Captain Jack McCalman with a bandaged and bloodied nose looked as if he was auditioning as the new Hannibal Lecter. Head coach Damien Hill was just relieved the victory was achieved. “A grinding win and it really showed the depth of our bench. We found a way to win but we still have a lot of work to do.”

Forward coach Mark Bakewell looked equally drained. “We made it harder than what it was supposed to be. We have to keep working on cohesion as backs and forwards to improve”.

Try scorer and assist inside centre Simon Kennewell was upbeat that the day ended with a win. “It was a grinding game. But for twenty minutes in the first half near the end it was good to hold them out for so long. It was a good feeling to score and get that win today.”

Next week we head down Epping Road to confront arch rivals Eastwood.


*Poikilotherm – a cold blooded animal

*ZoroastrianIranian religion and one of the world’s oldest faiths (Circa 1,500 BCE)