A stiff breeze coming off Parramatta Road was capitalised by West Harbour last Saturday at Concord Oval. The Pirates 23-17 victory was built on the back of their first half momentum and University playing catchup for the entire game.
Three minutes had only elapsed when Wests applied pressure with a five metre lineout. University were unable to counter the massive surge by their forward pack driving over the tryline for a converted try. With the aid of the breeze, Wests fullback Le Lievre had an accurate boot to kick goals for the Pirates to maintain a 10-0 buffer from the Students.
University hardly employed the ball along their backline during the opening half. Some uncharacteristic mistakes were being made by the Students. A wayward University clearing kicking inside their 22 metre area was caught along the eastern touchline by a Pirate. The marauding Pirates backed each other up for a simple try in the far corner. Again Le Lievre’s boot converted the try and University were well and truly facing a mountain of a challenge at 17-0.
Spurred on by the plight of their patron Pirate Johnny Depp aka Jack Sparrow in his recent battle with the Right Honourable Barnaby Joyce, the Pirates were playing with passion and bustling the Students as if they were playing for Boo & Pistol.
Some light shone for the Students prior to the half time break when Thomas Carter – University’s pillar – decided to make some amends. On the rare occasion that the backline started swinging the ball, a dart was made by Carter down the western blindside. Running straight Carter drew the defence before offloading to his winger O’Dare. With his electric pace O’Dare raced downfield for a very well engineered try.
A 17-5 deficit was facing the Students at half time. Any chance to achieve a balanced budget for the second half was going to be a difficult but not impossible mission.
West Harbour now facing the wind for the second half continued their tactic of securing any valuable on offer. Le Lievre kicked an early penalty to increase the scoreline to 20-5. University finally had an opportunity midway through the half after a five metre scrum was driven over resulting in number 8 Mitchell Whiteley scoring.
The tit for tat scoring continued when another University indiscretion was punished with a Pirate penalty causing the scoreline to increase to 23-10. The ensuing kickoff by Macklin proved a momentary bonus for University. Wests mistimed the receiving of the ball allowing University to regather. The blindside was targeted and centre Angus Roberts scored a converted try.
At 23-17 a converted try could just do it for the Students with less than 8 minutes remaining. But a combination of resolute Wests defence and University not finishing off their play allowed Wests to come out with a victory much to the applause of their well lubricated grandstand cheer squad.
Next week University have no respite against the dreaded Green Rats of Warringah at University Oval.