Sydney University vs West Harbour
By Bruce ‘China’ Lin

University’s habit of escape acts ran out last Saturday at Concord Oval. Aided with a mountain of penalties and pressured by conceding field position, the Pirates defeated University 40-38 to regain the White Ribbon Cup.

University actually registered first points when winger Matt Hood received a ball thrown open to score in the Parramatta Road corner. But Wests continued to frustrate University with the accurate boot of their five eighth with a name more synonymous from the cast of the Bold and the Beautiful- Tayler Adams. Three consecutive penalties and a converted try to former University player fullback Kodie Drury-Hawkins saw the Pirates leading 16-5. But to University’s credit their strong scrum saw a driving eight man mass allow Students fullback Christian Kagiassis to score his 50th club try. His conversion saw a 16-12 score in favour of Wests.

Another fortuitous five metre scrum to University saw the unleashing of their power scrum. Wests pack was back pedalled penalised and reset a number of occasions. Eventually referee James Leckie had no other option to award a penalty try to University for them to take the lead 16-19. But Wests Adams once again placed his team back to parity with a penalty to show a 19-19 score at halftime. University were attacking but the unpredictable Pirates were still in proceedings taking advantage of University’s breaches.

The second half could not have started worse for the Students. Mistakes and some sloppy play in the 22 metre area inexplicably gave Wests the opportunity to score three converted tries. Their lead in the blink of an eye was now 40-19. Twenty minutes remained in the match and University were committed to run the ball to achieve an urgent catch up.

This came soon after when the ball was spread wide along the backline. Hood received the final pass and darted down the eastern touchline drawing the defence for his support fullback Kagiassis to score. Kagiassis the heir to a Thessaly olive oil fortune converted his try for a 40-26 score. Still with plenty of time left to try and claw back.

Again the dominant University scrum was proving difficult for the Pirates to handle. Successive penalties from the five metre mark saw University halfback Jock Merriman take the initiative. A quick tap down the blindside saw Hood score another try. 40-31 was now the score and a pulsating last ten minutes was scheduled.

University soon after scored another converted try with five minutes remaining through veteran Tom Carter. The Students now trialed by only two, would there be time for another comeback? University were attempting to gain vital field position and Wests were trying to shut the game down with successive picks and drives. University were awarded a penalty with a minute left in the game. However it was beyond the range of Kagiassis. University opted for the lineout and reloaded their attack. Ferocious recycling was being undertaken by University attempting to inch their way towards the tryline. The hooter had sounded and there were no more chances left for University. Forward after forward took the ball up but at the end a turnover saw Wests regather and kick the ball dead to end a high blood pressure ending.

Wests had hung on to a slim victory capitalising on University’s uncharacteristic undisciplined play. The lead was too great this week for University to peg back.

Next week University have another hard showdown with the abrasive Southern District Rebels at University.