Sydney University’s first home game for the season last Saturday did not deliver the disciplined play characteristic of the Students. The strong Manly Marlins defeated University 28-14 before a large and vibrant crowd.
The first half was all Manly as their backs ran riot. Their fleet footed five eighth Sam Lane scored the initial try. Lane displayed a combination of stepping, jinking and weaving avoiding any University defender. University just could not get out of first gear as dropped balls, turnovers and not securing line outs were capitalised by the Marlins. It was fortunate that a few missed Manly kicks at goal kept the score line to 12-0 at halftime.
The day also coincided with the University clubs legendary Ladies Day, an event ranked more highly than the Mardi Gras after party. The apocalyptic sea of colour and fashion was almost likened to an auditioning session for Australia’s Next Top Model! A young lady just could not resist being served by a University lad sporting a set of cauliflower ears or a missing tooth for the afternoon.
Coach Malone’s halftime debrief was to minimise mistakes so that University could get back on track. However, the woes continued with two relatively easy tries in the first 8 minutes to the Marlins. If the first half was hard for University to watch, then the ballooning score line of 28-0 was likened to receiving the boxed set of Barry Manilow’s greatest hits – University did not need this! Injuries just added to the frustration.
However a mini metamorphosis did take place at the latter stages of the half. On his first grade debut University five eighth Ben Hughes backed up after a slashing run through by the inside backs to score under the posts.
A quick conversion saw a commensurate reply from the kickoff. The ball was worked towards the left wing. Upon receiving the ball winger Henry Clunies-Ross exploded on to the pass to cut downfield. About to be tackled deep inside the Manly half, Clunies-Ross passed inside to the equally explosive right winger Mark O’Dare who bolted downfield for a belated but spectacular converted try. This was the traditional play of the Students however, time ran out.
The game eventually was wound down by Manly for the final score of 28-14. A disappointing loss but a valuable lesson for the young University team.