With a preseason of conditioning and kissing photos of the blarney stone courtesy of Pat O’Doherty’s mother Margaret, the only thing to stop the Shute Shield would be an eastern European oligarch hijacking it.

University faced their aggressive foes the Warringah Rats at fortress Pittwater Rugby Park last Saturday. The result ultimately did not go the way of University as the hairy green rodents judiciously used the wind to outmuscle University by 29-26.

University’s trademark rucking was released early inside the Warringah quarter. Constant rucking was inching close to the Warringah goal line. The bubble burst when Cumnock’s finest, Captain and breakaway Jack McCalman picked up the ball and scurried over like one of the mice on his parent’s farm. But never underestimate a wounded rat and soon after scores were even after Warringah cut through the defensive line with a short ball to a player running at full steam under the posts.

University continued the pressure when halfback Banjo Travers toed through a loose ball down the blind with assistance from University winger Sepesa Loga- Tarogi  However, the 14-7 scoreline continued to fluctuate with Warringah scoring a try due to a loosely marked ruck on their line.  

University received a two for the price of one bonus when a Warringah player was sin binned for obstructing. The Students pressed inside the Warringah quarter and soon after spread the ball wide to the eastern hill allowing outside centre Angus Bell to score. 19-12 finished off the first half however University would run against the wind in the second half.

It was fortunate that there was no precipitation after the incessant rain bomb during March which would render rugby being played with snorkels. There was a healthy crowd on hand, and they were not to be disappointed for the second half under sunny conditions.

University started on the right note with a penalty try awarded for obstructing Angus Bell with a certain try. 26-12 favoured the Students but that’s where it stopped for University.  Warringah had not even started to use the wind and become more adventurous.

Quick taps and pressuring inside the University quarter pegged back the scoreline to 26-26. University were now being pressured by Warringah, and inevitably they held the upper hand with a penalty increasing their score to 29-26.

University were later a man down because of frustration and gamesmanship. Warringah were applying enormous pressure against University, who could not lessen the tightening of the grip. A valiant attempt by University at fulltime to somehow run the ball out from their quarter failed and the game finished at 29-26 to Warringah.

University started strong but some crucial errors against a rampant Warringah who had the aid of a breeze proved their downfall. Two points were salvaged but a valuable lesson was learnt to apply more discipline against the opposition.

Things do not get easier next week when our first home game at Camperdown will host our arch nemesis Randwick.