Reversing their first round loss in Mudgee, the local blue collar men bustled the Students into errors and uncharacteristic ill discipline in their narrow 16-14 victory. An unsuccessful penalty kick at death could have snatched victory for the Students. But alas, all the stars were aligned to the Novocastrians and they won deservedly.

University scored two tries to No.8, Mitch Whiteley who was exonerated at an inquest after last week’s bizarre send off. However, the resilient Hunter played a bustling game backing up well which caused an early sinbinning of fullback Angus Bell for interference in the ruck. The ensuing five metre maul saw their big pack roll over for a converted try to even scores 7-7. Hunter increased the score line  to 10-7 after receiving a further penalty kicked by their five eight Winchester who must have been blessed with a radar in his foot.

There was no mission to absquatulate * back down the M1 motorway as the Students were being confronted by a Wildfires team intent on belting them into the A & E ward of John Hunter Hospital . After repelling sustained pressure from Hunter, University were able to increase the margin by a converted try through a sequence of sustained picking and driving inside the  Hunter five metre zone. Again, that man from the western plains of Wellington Mitch Whiteley scored off a loose marked ruck. University were ahead 14-10 but this was premature.

Hunter had a potent weapon in their five eighth Connor Winchester who kept them in the game with a penalty for a ruck infringement. 14-13 and University were hanging in there by a thread of Colgate dental floss. The sinbinning of Ben Hughes for a questionable deliberate ball smack down also did not help University maintain any continuity.

Penalties was all that was needed by the Wildfires as Winchester was the new Messiah. A collapsed scrum on the ten metre line was mere child’s play as Winchester stabbed the ball with his left boot for it to be sailing towards the Merewether beach baths. University were down 16-14 and things were not looking peachy for the Camperdown crew.

A lineout infringement was awarded to University three minutes from the end. This was the get out of jail-Midnight Express card. But for reasons only those in middle earth could appreciate the penalty kick was missed to the roar of the Newcastle crowd in the stands. The clock was running down and University were running it after the kickoff. But it was not their day. The ball was turned over and Hunter regathered to kick it dead to end the game.

A disappointing loss for the Students. But Hunter minnows of the Shute Shield are undoubtedly giant killers of the competition. Congratulations on your effort.  

Nest week at home University will host Eastern Suburbs which will be another hard physical encounter.

* absquatulate -to leave somewhere abruptly

Tries – Mitch Whiteley (2)
Conversions – Ben Hughes (2)