The cobwebs were well and truly shaken off last Saturday. Sydney University defeated arch rivals Randwick 34-21 in a clinical set piece exercise plus a moment of pure running rugby during the second half.
The Students first quarter was precision with rolling mauls and fierce rucking resulting in a quick lead of 14-0. Randwick had no counter to the lethal University set piece with the forwards shredding and mincing the opposition akin to a Students weekly staple that a kilogram of Aldi beef mince.
Soon after the scoreline had ballooned to 21-0. Halftime sounded and Randwick were facing a considerable deficit but not outside their capabilities.
After the Covid affected 2021 season the vibe down at Camperdown had not changed at all. The bars and stands were full. People were lining up to try licensee Luke Mitchell’s new hot halftime dish of frygadeli *. But alas the hungry horde would have to wait as there was none left due to limited offal supplies.
The second half was a sign of Randwick’s comeback and their impetus was gained when young number eight Papillon Sevele was sin binned for an innocuous driving tackle. The referee however deemed this tackle as a lifting offence and consigned the number eight to the sidelines.
Randwick with a one man advantage borrowed the script from University by applying some muscle with a sequence of fierce rucking to score beside the posts. University five eighth, Jude Gibbs kicked a penalty for breathing space. Then soon after was the play of the day which had more venom than a Will Smith slap!
Receiving a ball inside their half, University decided to attack the blindside. Fullback, Angus Bell darted through a gap then offloaded to his support big second rower Mitch Ryan who in turn passed to winger Sepesa Loga-Tarogi. Sepesa of the Suva Loga-Tarogi’s applied speed a jink and step that would make Ariarne Grande request his presence. Sepesa’s one handed offload to another support and eventually the shadowing Waratah hooker making a cameo appearance Tom Horton trotted over untouched for an incredible try. Scoreline was 29-7. However Randwick enjoyed a moment of Nirvana when a succession of quick tries altered the scoreline to 29-21. The myrtle green jerseys were coming back but once again. University needed to apply some gumption to get the job done.
There was a sustained period late in the half where scrums were set and reset due to penalties incurred by Randwick. University had a superior scrum and they were focused on that elusive try to seal the game. Eventually, a perfect moving mass inched its way to the Parramatta Road end to score a pushover try. 34-21 was now a handy lead and with only two minutes left it seemed University would enjoy a bonus point victory. The bell sounded and the Poidevin Farr-Jones Cup was once again retained by University.
There were many pluses to the game. The overall performance is a gradual improvement from the previous weeks. The combinations were starting to develop amongst this new look side.
Papillon Sevele is a player to watch. Only about twenty-one years old the Tongan skewer was sucking in the oxygen after the game. Papi who is a closet fan of the Wayne Bennett school of word economy summed up the victory succinctly, “It’s the best!”
Forwards Coach with the John Wayne swagger Mark Bakewell was measured in his praise. “Our first twenty minutes were outstanding, almost clinical. The last twenty we let them off the hook . If we applied that discipline for eighty minutes we’re going to be hard to beat.”
Next week University do battle against the rough and tough West Harbour Pirates at Drummoyne Oval.
* Veal liver representative of the Ionian islands
Tries: Luke Ratcliff, Angus Allen, Mitch Ryan, Banjo Travers, Tom Horton
Conversions: Jude Gibbs (3)
Penalties: Jude Gibbs (1)