The blue and gold roadshow rolled into the jewel of mid-western NSW, Mudgee last Saturday. This annual pilgrimage to Glen Willow stadium is one of the highlights of the club calendar. The overwhelming consensus is that everyone has a rollicking good time absorbing the atmosphere, food, piquant wines and hospitality of this region.
University continued their recent good form with a 33-14 victory. However, Hunter have improved exponentially with a solid forward pack and some real ad lib play amongst their backline.
The carpet like playing surface irrigated by the waters of the Cudgegong river saw University strike first points in the sixth minute. Play was spread wide inside the Hunter quarter seeing five eighth Jude Gibbs throw a long looping pass to a rampaging fullback, Angus Bell who in turn offloaded to his winger in support Simon Kennewell, diving in the north eastern corner. The successful conversion gave the colourful crowd their first glimpse of what the afternoon had in store.
University’s controlled play was difficult for Hunter to counter. University would punish any Hunter mistake and this came after a loose lineout. The ball bobbled like a frog in a blender. A perfect opportunity for captain and breakaway Jack McCalman, to regather and step his way like a modern day Fred Astaire towards the tryline to increase the scoreline to 12-0.
Hunter although facing a deficit against a University team with momentum persevered. Their experienced half back Foku Foku built like a RAM utility was always scheming making the ball move. University halfback Banjo Travers almost looked like a lillliputian from Gullivers travels compared to the giant Foku.
Hunter’s Pacific Islander crew threw the ball around akin to a sevens game causing University to really hustle in defence. During this process Hunter hammered the University defence inside their quarter. Hunter applied a crash ball movement which breached the line allowing them to score a converted try.
A University rolling maul try concluded the half with a modest lead of 19-7.
The second half took a while to settle before University scored their next points. Some clever backline play saw a Gibbs chip kick through which was regathered by outside Henry Clunies-Ross. Clunies-Ross the veteran talisman then passed onto a speeding Angus Bell who dived over in the corner. 26-7 the scoreline. But the Newcastle blue collar men never downed their tools and scored by taking advantage of a lucky bounce which caught the defence napping.
Newcastle played hot potato with the ball but could not effectively breach the structured University defensive line. University ended their campaign when the club’s Flying Fijian Fashionista winger Sepesa Loga-Tarogi scored off a scrum. 33-14 final score on a beautiful sunny afternoon.
Head coach, Sean Hedger was satisfied but still could see that the team had not reached their full potential. “With possession we had three turnovers in the second half but we came good later. The backs still need more cohesion,”
This event could not be possible without the support and cooperation of the Mudgee community. To that the SUFC extends their utmost appreciation to Mayor Mr Des Kennedy and his council staff.
Next week we are back at the birthplace to take on the Western Sydney Two Blues.
Tries: Simon Kennewell, Ciaran Loh, Jack McCalman, Angus Bell, Sepesa Loga-Tarogi
Conversions: Jude Gibbs (3) Will Goddard