Coming away from Warringah’s Rat Park with a bonus point victory was welcomed on a bitterly cold wet and windy Saturday.
University ran with a prodigious southerly gale during the first half. There was little between both sides in the initial stages until Students’ five eighth Angus Roberts decided to run straight over the advantage line. Just outside the Warringah 22 metre area Roberts executed a deft step and shot through a gap. Approaching the tryline Roberts passed outside to his winger Greg Jeloudev racing down a narrow touchline corridor to dive in the north western corner.
The University fifteen had collectively raised their body temperatures to 97.7 *F and were now drawing upon their attacking arsenal.
Deep inroads were being made into Rat territory and the second try was courtesy of Jeloudev again. The nuggety winger made a long run inside Warringah territory and linked with breakaway Pat McCutheon. McCutheon chimed into the backline to score in the north eastern corner for a 12-0 University lead.
But these were no lab rats of the northern beaches as shown by Warringah’s dangerous half back Josh Holmes. University were attacking near the Warringah tryline. Somehow the ball popped out of a ruck and was swooped upon by Holmes. Seeing a gap and the University players all up front, Holmes motored virtually the whole length of the field to score Warringah’s first converted try. However this moment of redemption was soon reversed by University’s centre Jim Stewart. University built some phase play inside the Warringah quarter. Stewart received a ball and used his trademark power to bust the defence and touch down before halftime for University to lead 19-7 at the break.
There was a big crowd around the ground on such a cold miserable day. With Warringah about to take advantage of the significant breeze for the second stanza there would be ample action forthcoming.
Warringah did not disappoint their supporters as they whittled the scoreline back down to 19-14 with an early try after an attacking scrum. But an important buffer was maintained with a long range Roberts penalty seeing a lead of 22-14 lead 10 minutes into the second half.
It was tough for University running into a stiff breeze and any field position had to be fully exploited. The Students forwards were working well and managed to camp themselves inside the Warringah five metre area for an extended period. University then secured a five metre scrum.
The Students pack were now dominant receiving successive penalties after Warringah took the utilitarian option to collapse the scrums. On the third reset the advantage was played and University decided to continually pick and drive for number eight Mitchell Whiteley to smash over beside the posts for a converted try and lead of 29-14.
The restart saw the Rats securing the ball and work their way inside the University five metre area. Holmes once again provided another glimmer of hope for his team. Holmes was trailing the rucks and then applied a supreme dummy to the outside. Hoodwinking the Students defence an easy converted try was scored.
Scores were now 29-21 and according to the ground announcer there was approximately three minutes left in the game. The ground announcer was a suspected clairvoyant to know what time had elapsed. There appeared a reverence to Edgar Rice Burroughs 1924 novel – The Land that Time Forgot as the ground clock was permanently affixed to 30.88 seconds for the entire day! Negotiating an enterprise bargaining agreement for a scoreboard attendant and feeding the volunteer hamster generating the power for the electronic clock would be handy for the next game!
University secured possession inside the Warringah half and sensibly used the time remaining to gain a bonus point victory in extreme conditions.
University play their last home game next week at University Oval against Northern Suburbs to complete the regular season before the finals series.