Sydney University vs Eastwood
By Bruce’China’ Lin
With their season well and truly on a knife edge, University’s character was exemplified with their 32-22 victory over heavy weight rivals Eastwood on a sun drenched SUFG last Saturday.
It was not the biggest of wins for the Students but the exceptional performances of some players who should still be playing colts was the pinnacle of this hard fought victory.
The big Eastwood fifteen were stretching the Students during the initial phases recycling quickly until they shunted the ball out wide. The quick shift to the left wing saw a try being scored in the corner for an Eastwood lead of 5-0.
Soon after a ball from relieving five eighth Nick Phipps was intercepted for their flanker Kovacic to increase their lead to 12-0 on the scoreboard. The catalyst for University to mount their fightback arrived courtesy of a colt Guy Porter.
On his first grade debut Porter showed he will be one to watch in years to come. Porter was shadowing an Eastwood attack and received a gift tantamount to the Oz lotto jackpot when a pass fell into his hands. The outside centre wound up and shifted through the gears motoring downfield. It was almost as if the music from Chariots of Fire was in the background as Porter was inching closer to the try line just ahead of trailing defenders. Porter scored under the uprights and the Students were on the board after twenty minutes.
Eastwood had the size but University had some serious speed in their backline. Using some field position University exploited Eastwood’s shortage of defenders. Inside the 22 metre area some cut out passes saw winger Greg Jeloudev scoring in the far corner. Christian Kagiassis’ conversion enabled University to reach parity at 12-12.
University could be content going into halftime trailing Eastwood15-12 courtesy of a late penalty. Initial nervous signs had disappeared . The Students had that glint in their eyes to plot a victory going into the second stanza.
Like a mirror image the second half saw Eastwood rack up some quick points with a try from a five metre lineout. However this failed to curb the enthusiasm of the Students. Shute Shield points scoring machine Kagiassis kicked a penalty to enable University to be within striking distance at 22-15.
An unfortunate ankle injury to retuning Waratah Jake Gordon saw a reshuffling of the backline. Nick Phipps went to his rightful position of half back and his danger towards other teams arrived. University’s youthful pack was five metres out from the Eastwood try line. Props Wayne Borsak and Alex Batho were inching their way towards the Holy Grail chalk line. A ruck formed and Eastwood looked scattered. Phipps rather than spread the ball open saw a gap off the ruck and darted through it to score. The see sawing scoreline once again reflected 22-22. Eastwood were fatigued and their big forwards were no longer pounding University. University’s youthful backrow of Moore, Dunbar and McCalman were making inroads with some barn storming runs and shutting down repelling defenders. Kagiassis kicked another penalty and University were ahead 25-22. Momentum had swung towards the Students.
University were continuing to pile on pressure. An attack in the 22 metre area was about to break the Eastwood dam. Pick and drives were being executed just off the try line with desperate Eastwood defence just holding back the blue and gold tide.
University’s second rower the 5th Earl of Belconnen Nick Champion de Crespigny took the ball at the back of the ruck and burrowed beneath a pile of human flesh. Some quick cross checking by the referee Mr Houston saw him raise his hand for a try and the raptures of the University supporters could be heard down Broadway. The conversion saw University deny Eastwood a bonus point as a ten point buffer had been achieved.
The remainder of the game saw University playing with control. 32-22 was the final score and a valuable victory had been achieved. Battered bruised players were sucking in the air coupled with big smiles on their faces. Four players today should be still playing colts but were part of a gutsy win.
Young Guy Porter on his first grade debut was almost lost for words after the game. “It was great to be out there. A big step up but it was pretty awesome!” said the exhausted centre.
The mission still continues next Saturday. University must maintain consistency against Gordon at Chatswood Oval.