Global trade wars, Meaghan and Prince Harry’s wedding, diplomatic expulsions, ball tampering, Married at First Sight and – Stormy Daniels! These were just some of the stories dominating the news over the off season, but last Saturday at Sydney University the real news beckoned with the start of the 2018 Shute Shield.

Sydney University commenced their 2018 campaign with a 36-12 victory against the always tough Parramatta Two Blues. Under glorious cloudless skies, the young University fifteen came out to feel the need for speed as the ball was moved to all boundaries of the ground.

University had pinned Parramatta inside their quarter from the opening whistle and by the fourth minute their persistence paid off. Attacking towards Parramatta Road, the blindside was exploited by half back Nick Phipps enjoying  a rare cameo from representative duties. The ball was recycled and debutant second rower Ratu Rotuisolia ran hard onto a ball to smash his way over for his maiden first grade try. A great start to his first grade career for the young but very big lad!

University’s white hot backline continued their rapid ball movement to the wings. University’s dashing fullback with the Home and Away looks Tim Clements, darted down the Western Avenue  touch line. At the end of his journey Clements passed to his support in five eighth and another first grade debutant  Daniel Poletto who linked with Phipps for a great try.

The electronic scoreboard kept flashing scores as University starved Parramatta of any ball.  By the twentieth minute another attack through the backline saw outside centre Hogwarts alumnus Harry Potter crash over in the corner with an added high facial. The high shot on Potter saw the referee Mr Quinn reach into his hip pocket for the dreaded yellow card. Parramatta were now down to fourteen men with fifteen minutes still left in the first half. 19-0 was the scoreline and University looked as if they could pile on many more points. Soon after Parramatta lost another man to a high shot placing them under excruciating pressure.

With the numerical advantage the Parramatta scrum was being splintered by the University pack . Another debutant New Zealander second rower Jack Sherratt was making his presence felt in the tight play and set pieces.

The backpedalling Two Blues scrum saw Students Captain and number eight Rohan O’Regan pick up the ball. O’Regan resembled a man holding his grandpa’s shillelagh, swatting away Parramatta players in a bumping run towards the line. Stopping short, the ruck ball was received by Phipps who cheekily darted over from close range to increase the scoreline to 24-0.

Some parity was restored when University flanker Nick Champion de Crespigny was also sin binned for killing the ball. The Archduke of Gundagai was left to stew on the sidelines for ten minutes while his commoner teammates continued the battle .

University’s first half ended with a penalty try from repeated Parramatta scrum breaches. 31-0 was University’s score at the break for a solid lead.

Continuing the formula of rapid recycling would be the normal instructions from the bunker of coaches and Joe Horn-Smith. How true the vocal crowd would have thought this would be University’s aim with Phipps once again after the break scoring a try from a dominant scrum. The scoreline had ballooned to 36-0.

But to Parramatta’s credit they did not let University have their own way. Two quick tries were scored but not enough to peg back the deficit.

The remainder of the half never rose to any great heights. University were fortunate that their early lead would prove impossible for Parramatta to peg back. Final score 36-12.  University were off to a solid start albeit with significant room to improve as the Students progress through the competition  against very strong opposition.

Next week a trek to the foot of the mountains awaits University against the Penrith Emu’s.