FREEDOM to run was credited for Sydney University’s first premiership in five years after the Students blew Warringah away 45-12 in the grand final on Saturday.
A dominant scrum and man-of-the-match performance from Waratahs halfback Jake Gordon inspired Uni to the big victory, securing their first premiership since 2013, against the defending champions.
In front of 15,500 fans at North Sydney Oval, Uni’s forward pack smashed the Rats.
Injury to veteran Luke Holmes forced flanker Mahe Vailanu to play hooker and Uni’s scrum was utterly dominant, resulting directly in several of the tries, including a penalty try in the 46th minute that put them 31-7 ahead and effectively clinched the title.
Uni skipper Rohan O’Regan praised his teammates and coach Rob Taylor for allowing them to play with flair.
“It’s absolutely unreal, people have got to understand how hard these young lads worked for this, they’re in five nights a week practicing their skills, trying to be better, and that performance shows what these young blokes are capable of,” O’Regan said.
“Rob Taylor, (assistant coach) Joe Horn-Smith, hats off to them. They gave us so much freedom to play, and the blokes embraced it with both hands.
“We came into this year with a bit of uncertainty, a bit of doubt as to what would happen, and we just believed in ourselves and what we were capable of.”
Gordon was brilliant, scoring two first half tries to give Uni a 17-7 lead at half-time
It was one-way traffic in the second half, with Uni crossing after just two minutes through Harry Porter, before their penalty try was given to put them 31-7 ahead.
Seb Wileman did manage to score a spectacular try for Warringah in the 59th minute, after a quick tap from their own 10 metre line.
Outside centre Wileman finished the sweeping break upfield by beating four defenders, including dummying past the last tackler, to score.
But Uni’s replacement halfback, Wallaby Nick Phipps, entered the field and soon set up Testteammate Tolu Latu for a try in the 64th.
Phipps’ double cut-out pass across the face of the line was juggled and caught by Latu who slammed the ball down untouched.
At 38-12, the result was sealed and the only question was the margin.
Uni scored one more try in the 69th minute to winger James Kane, who also kicked seven goals from as many attempts for a personal haul of 21 points.
Gordon’s first half double put the Students 10 points ahead at the break.
After Kane had opened scoring with a penalty goal, Gordon crashed over for the first try of the game in the 26th minute.
The No.9 waited patiently as Uni forwards crashed towards the line, and then darted through exhausted defenders to score under the posts.
Kane’s conversion gave Uni a 10-0 lead and the Rats had to score next to remain in touch.
That they did, with fullback Dave Feltscheer finishing a sensational 80-metre attacking raid sparked by a brilliant break from halfback Josh Holmes.
From the back of a shaky scrum, Holmes broke up the left side.
The ball was shifted across the field and Feltscheer outpaced centre Guy Porter before stepping inside fullback Tim Clements to score.
Hamish Angus’s conversion made it 10-7 with five minutes remaining in the half, but Gordon snatched a second try two minutes before the break.
The wily scrumhalf took a quick tap from a scrum penalty under Warringah’s posts and caught the defence napping.