The cloud and fog had lifted  and out came the sunshine at Woollahra Oval last Saturday before a bumper crowd. However, University were the party poopers with a hard fought 21-15 defeat of Eastern Suburbs.

The tricolors started like a Knox Street Double Bay plastic surgeon fire sale swamping University and executing fast ball movements. Their endeavours came to fruition when two minutes had elapsed allowing them to attack down the middle deep inside the University half.

A break was made mid field allowing their centres to combine and score under the posts for an early lead of 7-0. University were experiencing a selcouth* feeling being behind at such an early juncture. But in the words of the world’s most desirable despot-Kim Jong-Un, “you would be foolish to underestimate the potency of the set piece!”

The lethal University set piece lineout constituted that weapon . A lineout was formed along the Easts twenty two metre line. Halfback Henry Robertson applied all his guile and cunning to run rather than pass to his backline. Robertson’s piercing run exploited Easts experimentation in sleep apnea. Robertson offloaded to his supporting hooker and Waratahs comrade Tom Horton with an easy try under the uprights which was converted. 

But Easts were jolted from C pap masks and commenced to camp themselves inside the Students quarter. Easts must have pilfered a page from the University rucking and mauling manual with constant pressure applied to the University goal line. Alas the University barrier could not withstand the extended barrage of Easts attacks allowing them to score. An unsuccessful conversion kept the score line to 12-7 in their favour.

Both sides were muscling up to each other with little allowance for mistakes. However University had that moment  in life akin to whether eating a plate of brussel sprouts or a bucket of hot KFC Chicken- the five metre lineout!   

This piece of physical beauty worthy of a mention in The Smithsonian Institute took place along the golf course side of the ground. The rolling mass spearhead was inching towards the Easts line. With added weight added by centre Henry Clunies-Ross and winger Sepesa Loga-Tarogi who was extra careful not to soil his jersey or ruffle his hair saw Horton score his double. The conversion saw the first half end with University leading 14-12.

Over the years there’s always a colourful rivalry between both clubs. Their Murray Tate hill was in fine form. While their bench was feisty. You would love nothing more on a Saturday afternoon of Shute Shield rugby!

University’s dominance of the set piece continued. Any mistakes by Easts would be punished with open arms from the Students. A ruck infringement by Easts by hacking the ball gave University another five metre lineout. Once again after the ball was brought down and the pack was rolling into the Easts corner causing another seven points to be registered. A handy lead but not enough to ensure a victory.

Easts were showing a desperation to throw the ball about as they were definitely not breaching the University defence at all. Easts potted a penalty to narrow the gap to 21-15 within striking distance of a converted try victory.l But their gamble didn’t pay off as some solid University defence repelled their attacking raids on every occasion. 

For reasons only the referee knows, the match continued at least eight minutes after the forty minutes elapsed. Maybe the referee extended the game to nearly 5.00pm so that everyone could grab a hot fowl at the nearby Plumer Road chicken shop? 

Easts aided by their added time, were attacking and pressing the Students goal line. One blink and Easts would be in. Easts were dangerously close to the tryline and University were just holding firm. 

Easts attacked one last time but like Norths, last week they fumbled the ball over the sideline causing fulltime to be sounded. Another heart stopping finish to end the days rugby.

Head Coach, Sean Hedger was relieved but satisfied with the end result. Two important points were emphasised by coach Hedger. “It was our set piece and defence that won this game. I’m happy that we did this well.”

Next week at University the Students battle with those from the deep south of Sydney, Southern Districts.    

* Selcouth – When everything seems strange different.

Tries: Tom Horton (3)
Conversions: Jude Gibbs (3)