Games do not come as tense as yesterday’s final against heavy weight rivals Eastwood at Pittwater Rugby Park. In a tale of elation for University and utter devastation for Eastwood, University were able to secure a 10-9 victory and a berth for next Saturday’s Grand Final against Gordon at Leichhardt Oval.
For attractiveness, the game was hardly shining like a set of Tiffany diamonds. However, in terms of discipline, graft and sometimes sheer luck it was up there.
There was no give or take for the majority of the first half. University’s defence was steadfast cutting down the Eastwood tall timber. Some trading of penalty goals were the only scores from both teams until the Students had an opportunity to unleash their signature rolling maul.
Two minutes before the break University secured a five metre lineout. In clock work fashion the ball was brought down. You could see the intensity in the University surge. The pack was inching forward with breakaway Rohan O’Regan and second rower Zac von Appen showing their contorted war faces likened to Kubrick’s war epic Full Metal Jacket urging their comrades to drive harder. Eastwood were lying all over the ruck discombobulated *. It worked as the maul of flesh was able to breach the Eastwood line for hooker, Ciaran Loh to score a converted try.
The score line of 10-3 saw out the first half. University were under no illusions that discipline and hard grafting play was going to see them secure a victory. Forward’s Coach, Mark Bakewell in a huddle was seen and heard addressing his pack with subtitles coming from his mouth. An address of Churchillian proportions!
It certainly worked as both sides participated in an almighty slug fest to gain the ascendancy. Edmed the Eastwood five eighth, Captain and danger man potted two penalty goals to inch closer to the Students at 10-9. University were gaining field position but somehow a mistake or turnover stifled their momentum. The clock was winding down. Eastwood were enjoying a slight breeze. Any mistake or penalty was potentially fatal for University.
Edmed had opportunities to create a buffer, but two long range kicks hit the upright whilst the other fell short under the cross bar and was knocked on. The ensuing Eastwood scrum was their get out of jail card right on fulltime. The ball was channeled back inside the Eastwood scrum. Eastwood rucked the ball towards the posts. University were desperately trying to repel the surge. There were literally seconds left on the clock. Then there was no time left on the clock as the siren sounded the entire grandstand were on the edge of their seats looking for a late Eastwood try to seal the victory.
The ball was passed back to the awaiting Edmed, positioned in front of the posts for a field goal to end the game. Edmed’s, Jonny Wilkinson moment had arrived. Edmed received the ball and dropped it onto his right boot. All eyes were glued on the ball. The ball sailed towards the posts. But if luck was bestowed on the lads from Camperdown it came with the ball sailing across the face towards the west. Full time had sounded and University forced the ball in goal.
A moment of surrealness enveloped the ground. University were looking at referee, Angus Gardner to adjudicate what the status of play was. Referee, Gardner blew his whistle and motioned with his hand that it was full time and the game had ended. University jumped for joy that they had survived by a dental floss to make it to next week’s Grand Final. Eastwood were shattered. But must be commended for a titanic encounter they waged against their old foes University.
Head Coach, Sean Hedger was mentally exhausted but relieved by the result. “It was not our best performance for the year but our defence was dogged. Eastwood nullified our driving maul and full credit to them. We have things to work on for next week. It starts now as we only have a six day turnaround.”
Forwards Coach, Mark Bakewell also drained, was absorbing his maiden season and Grand Final at University. “I’m too old for this, but we’ve finally earnt the right to play in a Grand Final. We did that today.”
Leichhardt Oval is the setting next Saturday where you will also enjoy the curtain raiser entree. The Big Marn, Ray Hudd & David McDuling’s 2nd Grade side will battle Eastern Suburbs before the main course between University and Gordon.
*Discombobulated- confused and disconcerted.
Tries: Ciaran Loh
Conversion: Will Goddard
Penalty: Will Goddard