Two crucial mistakes in the first half proved costly in the long run as the Students succumbed to Eastern Suburbs 22-14 last Saturday in the twilight clash at Woollahra Oval.
There was little to separate both teams until fifteen minutes into the half where Easts broke the deadlock. Attacking just inside the University half Easts decided to diagonally kick towards the club house touchline. The ball was allowed to bounce which proved costly. Woolf their rangy winger scooped up the ball and darted towards the try line for a converted try.
University were stung but did not regroup according to plan. An attack just within their half inexplicably broke down with a mistimed pass. Like pilfering aluminum cans from a Sulo bin, the tricolours grabbed the bobbing ball to score near the posts to increase the score to 14-0.
Spurred on by their well lubricated anti-social distancing cheer squad seated along the golf course touchline Easts were well and truly on a roll.
University had to regroup as the half was winding down. Darkness was shrouding the ground and there was a distinct chill in the air. Any further tries would prove fatal before the break.
As luck would have it University redeemed themselves. Camping inside the Easts quarter the Students commenced their picking and driving. It was a precision exercise drawing defenders and inching their way towards the holy grail -the try line. The result arrived soon after when from the ruck half back Banjo Travers zigged and zagged to score under the posts for seven points before the break.
Over the years Easts home games against University would always coincide with their annual ladies day. An event on a par with University’s social day- a marquee full of all the glitz and confetti of epic proportions. But alas, the cameo by guest MC that Dear Leader Kim Jong-un spinning those hits from Pyongyang such as I left my heart in the Demilitarized Zone was impossible this year.
The second half was dour with big hits from both teams shutting down play. University finally camped themselves inside the Easts quarter and commenced picking and driving again to exhaust a back pedalling Easts. The ball was within a whisker of being scored through the forwards. But rather than go through the pack, halfback Travers channelled it to the open for outside centre Will McDonnell. Young Willo applied a hit and spin to score a converted try. A try that elated Willo’s mother Maria watching the live stream from Narrabri to crack open the Blackberry nip and celebrate.
University were dominating the set pieces with their new props Chris Talakai and Matt Sandell. But for some bizarre reason University were penalised for collapsing their own attacking scrum just on the Easts twenty two metre line. This set a phase of opportunities for Easts to capitalise on . A penalty down field allowed Easts to increase their lead to 17-14 . From these lucky breaks University never got back in losing all momentum. Later Easts scored a try against play down the far corner. Time ran out as Easts ran out winners 22-14.
With a handful of games ahead University’s quest for a minor premiership just got harder.
Next week University are at home against traditional rivals Randwick.