On a day much like the brilliance of the new Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s wedding, glorious late autumn weather graced Woollahra Oval last Saturday. In their hardest test to date, University overcame a determined Eastern Suburbs 27-19.
There was a bumper crowd of fine young ladies enjoying the carnival atmosphere of Ladies Day. But the ferocious rugby before them was equally enjoyed.
The Students commenced the day’s scoresheet with a ruthless brand of rucking inside the Easts twenty two metre area. A mountain of pick and drives was back pedalling Easts towards their goal line. Ultimately tight head prop Paddy Ryan bashed his way over for five points.
But Easts failed to surrender and some quick tries were scored through some adventurous backline play for the tricolours to lead 12-5 mid way through the half.
But University’s penchant towards attacking play re emerged. Again the forwards were providing the launch site for the Students attack. Wave after wave of rucks and mauls were made inside the Easts quarter. Whilst pressed against their line, Easts left their open side exposed which was easily exploited by University fullback Tim Clements for a try.
A late penalty saw University go into the dressing room at the break leading 13-12.
As mentioned the ground was bulging at the seams with Easts Ladies Day. Amongst the canapes and bubbly there was colour everywhere! Whispers spread that an after party guest celebrity Deejay would be Dear Leader Kim Jong-un playing his hits from the 38th parallel including I left my heart in the Demilitarised Zone.
The break was used productively by both sides. The second half alternated in scores. Easts had momentarily taken the lead only for University to peg back the score . 20-19 was the slender lead to University but Easts were still coming at University strongly.
Some reaching for a bottle of Mylanta soon came about when brewing tensions erupted. A fracas between Tim Clements, outside centre Guy Porter and a band of Easts players played out along the club house touchline. Disapproving Clements’ fashion sense with the camouflage urban guerrilla baseball cap that he wore before the game, three Easts players harassed the young fullback while he was running back into his half. Porter supported his fullback and took the mantra of the Royal Gurkha Regiment – Better to die than be a Coward when he took on the Easts trio. Although Easts appeared the transgressors, Porter was sin binned for inflaming the situation. Ten minutes remained in the game and University were in dangerous territory.
The maturity of the young fifteen was evident during this final stanza. Easts attack was being stymied by University’s resolute defence. Scything tackles caused attacking raids to stop. Being a man down made University to dig deep to stop Easts getting cheap points. The sin binning actually caused University to rally and score a decisive try. A five metre lineout was formed. A long throw was executed. A few rucks later big Paddy Ryan took up the ball to thunder ten metres out for a try near the posts.
University’s defence and superior forward play held firm against the onslaught for a tight 27-19 victory.
Coach Rob Taylor was particularly pleased with a victory against strong opposition. “A good win against Easts at their home with a bonus point. I’m sure they will be in the top six at finals time”, said Taylor.
Next Saturday at the SUFG University take on the dogged Southern District Rebels.
Trys: M. Sandell (1), P. Ryan (2), T. Clements (1)
Conversions: J. Kane (2)
Penalty kick: J. Kane (1)