The business end of the season commenced last Saturday at University with a nail biting qualifying Final against arch rivals Randwick. The Wicks were desperately unlucky not to force a draw and then play extra time, however University claimed the win by a thread of dental floss 31-29.
University started proceedings with a territory and field position for the initial 10 minutes. Forward dominance and the occasional incision by the backs enabled University to draw a five metre lineout.
The lineout was so elegant director Baz Luhrmann must have had input. Once the ball was brought down the epicentre had shifted unbeknown to the Randwick wall of forwards. The force was now channeled to front of the lineout . A wall of University prime beef moved forward whilst the Randwick pack were still clutching at offcuts which did not have the ball. An easy try was scored by Captain, Jack McCalman for an early lead of 5-0.
But you can never rest when in battle mode with the myrtle green. Five minutes later they spread the ball wide and attacked down the grandstand touchline. The ball was put through the hands and a spectacular try was scored by their winger Hendren in the corner to even scores 5-5.
University persevered for a period of time attempting to bust the Randwick defence. Another five metre lineout was the platform to exploit the myrtle green defence. The ball actually failed to hit its mark and bobbled at the back in the open. Somehow that hooker of exotic Sino, Anglo, Gaelic lineage, Ciaran Loh regathered and commenced to give his best impression of a crash dummy. Loh was running into a Randwick defender bouncing off and proceeding to go forward legs thrashing dragging defenders along in his wake to scoot away and score for a 10-5 lead. But Randwick had a never say die attitude and cleverly scored two more tries.
Randwick were leading 19-10 just before the half time break. But University were given a massive injection of confidence at the half time bell sounding. Field position was established inside the Randwick quarter. University commenced to unleash some hard rucking with relentless picking and driving towards the goal line. The penultimate ending arrived when that man with the physique honed from the Munich production line of BMW, Zac von Appen, smashed his body over the line for a much-needed converted try. Both sides then jogged off to the grandstand dressing rooms to plot against each other for the second forty minutes.
There was no real wind as sides changed over. However, University could be seen to start on the front foot. A series of Randwick errors and turnover saw the Students once again camp themselves inside the Randwick quarter. Soon this was converted to a series of five metre scrums. Randwick were thwarting the University set piece and eventually their hooker was sin binned for indiscretions. University instead of pushing over took the ball into the open once again driving to score. The see sawing scoreline continued with Randwick again counter attacking with their own version of picking and driving for a try.
Then a game changing moment arrived. A series of scrum repacks took place on the five metre line. Randwick were on their last warning over their play to stymie University. When their pack back pedalled again the referee was obligated to award a penalty try. 31-24 and University had now managed to stay ahead of Randwick.
Randwick’s crew never gave up. An attack was staged inside the University quarter. Randwick were desperate to establish parity and wave after wave of green jerseys were inching their way to the University goaline. The Students wall could not sustain the pressure and gave away a crucial try with less than two minutes left on the bell.
The conversion was to level scores and send the game into extra time. However, the Randwick kick sailed to the side of the posts. Play motored downfield for a few more mauls similar to last week. At the opportune time the ball was kicked into touch to end a pulsating battle. The narrowest of victories allows University to rest up and head straight to the Semi Final in two weeks time.
Forward Coach, Mark Bakewell was realistic about todays action. “It was a very tight game. Our set piece was excellent and then poor. Poor allows us to fix things which otherwise we would not have known.”
Head Coach, Sean Hedger equally supported these thoughts. “We stuck to plans but full credit to Randwick for giving us a game. They stretched us defensively. Our attack turned over too much ball.
A wins a win and the result would be more aligned to a moment of kalopsia. *. Next week University have a week’s reprieve to recharge, perhaps do those cores around the house and visit garage sales.
*Kalopsia – A condition where things seem more beautiful than they really are.
Tries – McCalman, Loh, von Appen, O’Regan, Penalty Try
Conversion – Goddard (2)