22 July 2023
By Bruce ‘China’ Lin
There are three certain things in life – death, taxes and ferocious battles with cross town rivals Eastern Suburbs. Last Saturday’s game at University once again typified this theme with the game only being decided in the last two minutes to bring a bonus point victory for the Students.
Running with the breeze during the first half Easts posted an early penalty. But after fifteen minutes University in fact were ahead 14-3 following a rather ingenious cross kick towards the wing received by winger Simon Kennewell. The second try was a five metre rolling maul. Both tries were converted with ease wide out by the ice cool goal kicking Cyborg Terminator with the baby face five eighth Jac Lloyd.
Easts had a moment of relief after their five eighth Bradford dummied through University’s defence to score an easy seven pointer. But University were on a mission to attack today. Once inside the tricolours quarter the ball was passed through the hands. In a moment where the influence of Las Vegas illusionist David Copperfield came to rugby, a deft passing sequence saw somehow inside centre Eddie Poolman receive the ball with the line wide open to score. Fast Eddie’s try gave a new dimension to the NSW Crimes Act section 178BA- Obtain benefit by deception! Scores were now 21-10 favouring the blue and gold.
The formula was working and a further spectacular try arrived just after the thirty minute mark. Once again the University ball was spread wide through the backline. Kid Dynamite better known as the young man with the name from an Irish soul band Ronan Leahy received the ball and it was shut the gate. With sublime running lines at pace Leahy executed a subtle left footstep to skirt around the Easts fullback to score an excellent try adjacent to the posts. The much valued bonus point had been obtained. Again the points machine Lloyd’s conversion allowed University to lead 28-10. But Easts had last bragging rights with a try through some close quarter picks and drives to trail at the break 28-15.
Although University had the benefit of a noticeable breeze in the second half, it was in fact Easts who benefitted. Two tries from picks and drives and merely some backing up by their Captain Gavin saw them whittle the deficit to suddenly lead 29-28.
But the pendulum once again swung back towards the Students. Pressing near the Easts line a lengthy phase of rucking saw University centimetres short on multiple occasions. But like Indiana Jones saving the day, Captain Jack McCalman took it upon himself to fight back and burrow over for a try.
It just shows days as toddler being read bedtime stories by his parents by a Cumnock camp fire kerosene lamp listening to Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird and C.S. Foresters Lieutenant Hornblower taught Jack stoicism whilst confronted with adversity. Two timeless pieces of literature to embrace in one’s cognitive years instead of being read Enid Blyton’s Noddy goes to Toyland. 35-29 University were now leading with less than five minutes left in the game.
But Easts also wanted to be party poopers and continued pressing the University line while inside the five metre zone. University were desperately holding back the tricolour surge until a fracture in the defence gave Easts the chance to plunge over. Easts with the conversion was now ahead 36-35 and there was three minutes left on the clock.
University had to press and attack and hope for the best. A try or penalty would be enough to obtain that desperate victory. It came with the latter and once again Lloyd stepped up to save the day. A ruck was formed inside the Easts quarter when tragedy befell them. The Easts prop was on his back trying to secure the ball back to his side. A very bad move. Deemed illegal play a penalty was awarded to University which must have made the Easts offending player feel a sense of *malapropism coming from his camp. Lloyd was delegated the job to bring it home and confidently did so slotting over the goal.
The fulltime bell had sounded but the kickoff was resumed. University could not afford to give possession away cheaply. The ball was knocked on after the kickoff. But with his rugby brain Jack McCalman made sure he regathered so that a scrum had to be reset. But there was no need to set a scrum as the referee Mr Houston blew fulltime to end a drama filled eighty minutes.
Deep breaths and relief was shown across the University rank and file. Forwards coach Mark Bakewell may have a new career as the meanest looking clairvoyant. “When Easts hit the front at the end I was 100% certain that we would eventually win. It wasn’t pretty but the team showed courage to get up. We got a lot out of that win”, said Bakewell.
Young second rower Oskar Hicks was just relieved the game had ended. “It showed what Uni can do when we dug deep. Our clinical training paid off. It’s a grand final every week for us.”
Last words from head coach Damien Hill, “ We found a way to win against a committed Easts. But we still have plenty to work on.”
Next week University are at home again for the last home game of the season against our traditional rivals Eastwood.
*Malapropism – A comical confusion of words.