17 June 2023
By Bruce ‘China’ Lin
1974 saw an iconic hit released by Canadian rock group Bachman, Turner, Overdrive titled Takin Care of Business. On Saturday the Students at Camperdown did so with a gripping narrow victory over the Manly Marlins by 21-17.
Before a big crowd, and the announcement of the Jack Potts scholarship after a club legend, University’s victory went literally down to the wire.
Manly running towards Parramatta Road commenced the scoring with a penalty after six minutes. However the blue and gold fifteen continued where they left off two weeks ago and commenced to take control. A five metre lineout delivered a signature rolling maul try to number eight Hugh Bokenham converted by five eighth the visiting Welsh bass baritone Jac Lloyd.
But the fun just got started. A mesmerising back line movement through multiple sets of hands was denied a try to winger Sepesa Loga-Tarogi and the very end. But this was just the precursor for things to come with some incredible ball movement executed soon after.
The ball was spread to the grandstand side. Fullback Sam Bignold injected himself into the backline. Drawing the defence, Bignold passed to Loga-Tarogi. The basics from junior rugby of catch and pass were displayed to the crowd. Soon Loga-Tarogi was darting down the touchline with a desperate Manly defence in pursuit. The heir to a Fijian spring water fortune outsprinted the defence for a try. 14-3 was the scoreline. University were looking strong but Manly had that element of danger whenever they applied some phases. Prominent amongst their ranks was former University back Ofa Manufetoa who was a handful whenever he received the ball.
University actually had at least two more scoring opportunities but missed out on converting them to points. The first half ended with the Students in the lead at 14-3. They looked the better of the two but to underestimate Manly would be unwise.
How true this was as nine minutes into the second half Manly scored a clever try. A set move was unleashed where a chip over the top saw Manufetoa regather and pass to a supporting fullback who scored a converted try. 14-10 was now showing on the scoreboard and Manly had acquired that valuable momentum.
However University were focused on not falling by the wayside. The ball was spun wide inside the Manly quarter and Bignold once again showed his skill. Receiving a ball through the backline Bignold chimed into the backline to outrun the tired Manly defence for another Lloyd converted try.
For an extended period afterwards Manly attacked relentlessly and pinned University inside their quarter. Again the brute strength of Manufetoa came to the surface with a classic crash ball try under the posts.
The margin was now a slim 21-17 and University could ill afford to make any errors with the game clock winding down.
Manly were tightening the tourniquet around University. The Students were tackling like fifteen men hypnotized by a Glebe clairvoyant repelling wave after wave of Manly attack. The game was all Manly and the crowd were on the edge of their seats as one mistake by University would be catastrophic.
When Manly was awarded a penalty at fulltime and opted for a five metre lineout , the face on forward coach Mark Bakewell aged a millennium. The ball was brought down and Manly started to drive and later pick and drive inside the University five metre zone. It was only a matter of time that a new scoreline beckoned. But somehow Manly had that element of white line fever and after an extended period of picking and driving after the fulltime bell sounded the ball was knocked on.
The University faithful in the crowd erupted to the chant of Uni, Uni, Uni and the match ended in dramatic fashion. There was* ebullient players and staff on the field that had just defeated the side second on the table.
Head coach Damien Hill was fair in his after match appraisal, “Hats off to Manly their lineout pressure was enormous. But we were outstanding in defence. We created opportunities and it brought out the culture in our side.”
Forward coach Mark Bakewell was truly relieved that he did not prematurely reach the age for a gold opal concession card with the game ending the way it did, ”Our mistakes kept them in the game. But we did show a fair amount of resilience. I give credit to the guys in that final play. Fair play to both us and Manly in the end. The game was not really good for my heart as I’m really too old for this.”
American visitors to the game Tom and Barbara-Ann from New York were in awe about the action and complete lack of padding and self-preservation by the combatants this afternoon, “The game was incredible, free flowing and no padding compared to American football. I’m so glad we got to experience Saturday afternoon at the rugby. Great atmosphere at the ground. ” said Tom the retired NYPD Detective out here for a conference.
Next week University are playing at sunny Coogee Oval against our traditional rivals Randwick.
*Ebullient – cheerful and full of energy