29 April 2023
By Bruce ‘China’ Lin
The day appeared on the verge of opening to the heavens. But an afternoon deluge held off enough to allow University to defeat arch rivals Randwick 21-14 at home.
There was no *defenestration like last week’s second half versus the Two Blues. Today University controlled play to grind out a well deserved victory.
The first sixteen minutes was characterised by little give and take from both teams. However, University seemed to enjoy territorial advantage. But somehow whenever they were in prime position to strike, a mistake such as a dropped ball or mistimed lineout stopped their momentum.
The frustration was appeased when Randwick were reduced to a seven man pack with the sin binning of their tight head prop French for collapsing. University opted to pack and re pack scrums. Randwick stood their ground but you could see the exhaustion etched on their faces.
Number eight Hugh Bokenham surged ahead towards the line and was stopped short. Blindside breakaway Papillon Sevele continuing the thrust scooped up the ball to plant a converted try. Any lead over Randwick is welcome but it never lasts for long.
Near the latter stages of the first half once Randwick served their sin binning sentence, they were able to secure some decent field position. Forming a five metre lineout, the myrtle green jerseys formed a phalanx to drive towards the Students line. Their exercise in physics whereby a moving object will come to rest and stop moving eventuated with rolling maul try. Scores were even after the conversion.
The first half played out without either side altering the scoreline. University seemed to have the territorial advantage. But Randwick still managed to repel any avalanche of points. If University needed to step up for the second half they needed to minimise errors.
The second half was a coach’s dream. There was even a collective wry grin from forward coach Mark Bakewell’s and scrum coach Laurie Weeks’*cavum oris as a dominant scrum shunted Randwick. The ball was shifted to five eighth Connor O’Shea. O’Shea stepped towards the blind but executed a ball back inside to Australian sevens player replacement outside centre Simon Kennewell. This set move saw Kennewell vapourise the first line of Randwick defence with his bumping run. Defenders were strewn over him like a cheap suit but the big centre bounded over under the posts for a great seven pointer.
14-7 was the scoreline but for how long? Randwick may not have enjoyed territorial advantage but they never hoist up the white flag. University was now reduced to a man down as second rower the big chap, Ed Scragg took umbrage with a Randwick counterpart over the protocol of what goes on first jam or cream for a Devonshire tea scone at the Chelsea Flower Show.
With the numerical advantage, Randwick commenced to attack at every opportunity. University defended stoutly but when an overlap appeared down the grandstand it didn’t bode well for the Students. A diagonal kick was regathered by Randwick winger the former University player Christian Yassmin who casually strolled over for another seven points.
Both combatants toiled away for the remainder of the half. Scores were even 14-14. Any indiscretion could prove absolutely fatal with the diminishing time.
With less than ten minutes remaining in this dour game University could sense their moment arrived after securing possession inside the Randwick quarter. Incessant recycling and picks and drives the hallmark of University were rolled out. The big forwards were exhausting the Randwick defenders who were backpedaled on their goal line. Halfback Smith kept moving the ball to blind and open. When he shifted the ball open a gap more prodigious than Kyle Sandilands wedding costs appeared. Debutant replacement hooker Bryn Edwards dived over for the penultimate converted try. 21-14 and with six minutes left in play University could ill afford to fall asleep and let Randwick back into the game.
A desperate Randwick was unable to reach parity and University grafted out a hard fought victory.
Head coach Damien Hill was satisfied with victory but could still see a lot more improvement coming. “A big improvement from last week. There was drive and hunger to win this time. There’s areas to still to improve but the team stepped up in defence.”
Forward coach Mark Bakewell could also see how improvements were made but more work is required. “During the first half we weren’t clinical and mistakes did not help. Randwick play an open style of play and we needed to put pressure on them to stop them scoring points which we did. But we need in future to dominate up front to be better.
Two players who stood out was the other twin tower dominant second rower Zac von Appen. Deep breaths from his eighty minutes, von Appen after the game was showing his bi lingual prowess by conversing in a North Upper Saxon German dialect of his forefathers, “Die erste Halbzeit war hart gekaemft und auf 7-7 ausgeglichen. In der Pause lud Oma zum Kaffeklatsch ein, sie servierte Kaiserschmarren mit Staub, meine Lieblingsmehlspeise, gerade das, was zum Sieg noetig war.”
Last words from new fullback visiting Welshman with the silken kicking skills young Jac Lloyd.”It was a very hard physical fast game. We defended quite well and today we matched them,” said the nippy fullback.
Next week we take on another traditional rival Eastern Suburbs at Woollahra Oval.
*Defenestration: action of throwing someone out the window
*covum oris: mouth
*Zac von Appen translation: The first half was hard fought and even at 7-7. Then my mother provided us afternoon tea, and served Kaiserschmarrn , with a dusting of icing sugar, we were all invigorated-my favourite!