Sydney University


Hunter Wildfires.  

15 July  2023

By Bruce ‘China’ Lin

There was no stopping off at a late night chemist for Quick Eze antacid tablets before motoring back down the M1 motorway last Saturday. As Sydney University defeated competition leaders the Hunter Wildfires 36-21 to keep their Shute Shield campaign alive.

The wind was prodigious and Hunter were running with it towards Merewether beach. Once inside the University quarter Hunter spread the ball wide on two occasions resulting in converted tries down the corner. The second try was somewhat dubious but the big boys from the steel city enjoyed some luck to lead at the break 14-0.

University were clunky in cohesion and missed a golden opportunity to score a converted try before the break. A cheeky kick behind the defensive line by the talismanic icon of club rugby Henry Clunies-Ross was regathered by the equally iconic and dashing fullback Tim Clements only for it to break down with the goal line beckoning. This moment of enterprise was perhaps a portent of things to come in the second half running with the wind. University looked they needed a spray of silicone to allow their play to flow without speed humps.

The Newcastle Sports ground grandstand is a sturdy structure. But there was noticeable sound emanations coming from the University dressing rooms as the coaching staff implored the team to lift and take full advantage of the stiff breeze.

The fifteen did not disappoint their small band of supporters and the coaches by drawing first points two minutes into the second half. Camping themselves inside the Hunter quarter University applied the pick and drive blowtorch hammering the Hunter line. The moment of success arrived when Captain Jack McCalman mummified in bandages like his alter ego King Tutankhamun, burrowed over to score. University were still down 14-5 but had that element of momentum now.

14-5 soon changed to 14-12. Halfback Theo Strang exploited a gap off a lineout and split the defence. Looming off his right shoulder was replacement inside centre Eddie Poolman. Showing a good turn of speed Poolman outsprinted the defence to score a try under the goalposts.

But the hits kept coming. Replacement halfback Henry Robertson passed to the open and the ball was later received by the messiah again Henry Clunies-Ross. Clunies-Ross jinked, shuffled and tip toed to the blindside. But avoiding being barrelled into touch Clunies-Ross gave a no look flick pass to his new winger Simon Kennewell. Kennewell applied a steps to bamboozle the drifting defence and score. Welsh kicking genius Jac Lloyd’s conversion saw University now lead 19-12. . At this moment of eastern standard time University could now experience that moment of *vicissitude. Hunter looked shellshocked as the momentum had clearly shifted towards the Students.

As a result of a 50-22 touch finder by Lloyd, University’s lineout brought back the good ole days . A lineout was formed out from the Hunter goal line and was rumbling along clobbering all and sundry before it. This time number eight the 6 ft 4” baby bok choy Hugh Bokenham scored another converted try. University were ahead 26-14 and soon 29-14 after Lloyd kicked a penalty.

But a poor kickoff reception gave Hunter some life when some picks and drives saw them score a rather soft converted try.

University put the scoreline beyond doubt and denied Hunter any bonus points at the thirty minute mark. Behind a dominant scrum halfback Robertson ran from the scrum base through a gap larger than a mortgage debt to score an easy try. Again points machine Lloyd converted to allow University to be in a comfortable lead of 36-21.

Hunter attempted to claw back but time ran out. Final score was 36-21 on this road trip. University  must continue the mission next week at home against another arch rival Eastern Suburbs.


  • Vicissitude –a change of circumstance affecting one’s life.