Sydney University advanced to the 2016 Shute Shield grand final with a comfortable 41-19 semi-final win over Warringah at the campus Football Ground on Saturday.

The win was set up on the back of a clinical first half when the Students controlled possession for the first half-hour and established a 26-nil lead from four well-constructed tries.

The visitors finally gained some useful possession late in the half and produced two tries to go the break trailing 26-12.

The hosts scored another two tries to one in the second half to become the sixth Sydney University team to make it to the 2016 grand finals, with the three Colts sides and Third and Fourth grades having won their semi-finals at the weekend.

Only Second Grade missed a grand final berth, going down 42-27 to Randwick, after leading 21-nil in their semi-final.

It will be Sydney University’s 14th First Grade grand final appearance since 1999 during which they’ve won eight titles. The 2016 minor premiers will meet Northern Suburbs – 35-20 winners over Southern Districts in the other semi-final – at North Sydney Oval at 3pm on Saturday.

Warringah had done their homework for Saturday’s tilt and their game plan included disrupting Sydney University’s scrum that has been an effective weapon through the season. Few of the first half scrums allowed for genuine, eight-man technique, with most being collapsed, re-set and collapsed again, with 50-50 penalties resulting.

On the back of the frustrating scrum plot, the second plan was to disrupt constructive halfback Jake Gordon at the breakdowns. That eventually resulted in yellow cards being handed out and the No.9 played a crucial hand.

The third part of the plan, possibly because the Students controlled possession and territory for much of the first half, was to kick for field position. That also backfired, with University fullback Angus Roberts turning in one of his best performances of the year with some decisive counter-attack running and many pin-point kicks for touch, some eating up 50m.

The Students opened in positive fashion with lock Lachlan Swinton collecting the kick-off on the 10m line, allowing the team to structure their play from the start. As the tries mounted, the Students continued to collect the restarts without fuss or mistakes, something they haven’t done all season, and as a result they continued to dominate possession and field position; and the penalty count as the visitors became frustrated.

Indeed, the first penalty, from the first scrum, saw Roberts take play to five metres from the Warringah, where the hosts won the throw and attack from the pick and drive option when the rolling maul was halted. Three phases in prop Tomas Robertson barged over.

Winger Christian Kagiassis, another who turned in a powerful running display on the day and who will be a crucial player with the boot come Saturday, landed the extras for a 7-nil lead in as many minutes.

The clinic continued with Gordon making a snipe from the restart. The Students maintained field position from a Roberts touch-finder. And 15 minutes in five-eighth Stuart Dunbar broke the advantage line and from the ensuing play Roberts kicked for the corner. Warringah winger Michael Adams was caught out of position and his opposite, the speeding Jack Redden, collected a favourable bounce to score wide out. Kagiassis landed the angled conversion for 14-nil lead.

Back to the restart and back to the clinic. The Students controlled possession in a long build-up that included telling plays from Roberts, inside-centre Tom Carter and Redden and then Gordon from different phases.

The result? A penalty five metres out, a quick tap from Carter who found hooker Folau Fainga’a with a looped pass, and a try in the corner. Kagiassis’s conversion attempt hit the upright and bounced away.

The fourth try came on the back of a powerful surge from lock Philip Mathew, who took play into the Warringah quarter and scrum near the line. The Students went for an eight-man shove but the scrum wheeled, allowing Gordon to snipe for the line untouched. Kagiassis converted for a 26-nil scoreline.

Warringah finally gained some useful possession in the shadows of halftime and put on two tries, showing why they had earnt a semi-final berth.

The first came off a lineout 30m out when they put on a beautifully constructed rolling maul that resulted in feisty hooker Luke Holmes scooting over.

The second was a long-range effort off the back of a scrum that hadn’t been collapsed. Halfback Josh Holmes linked with inside centre Rodney Iona to break the advantage line 60m out and from the ensuing ruck the halfback attacked the short side, linking up with winger Adams, who drew the last line of defence to send Holmes on a long excursion to the line. Iona converted for a 26-10 scoreline and a welcome break.

The opening of the second half was stop-start affair littered with penalties, one of which saw Iona yellow-carded for a tackle on Carter. Kagiassis landed the penalty for a 29-12 scoreline.

The Students extended that to 34-12 midway through the half when replacement prop Alex Batho powered over on the back of a multi-phased pick and drive assault.

And they put the issue beyond doubt with 10 minutes to go in the oddest fashion. Warringah were enjoying an assault on the University line when the ball swept across the backline and a possible try in the corner. That was until Roberts pulled in an intercept and raced 95m to score next to the posts. Kagiassis’s conversion took the score to 41-12.

Not to be outdone, the visitors scored a try at the death on the back of three penalties and many phases. Replacement forward Jack Sullivan was the man who planted the ball over the line on the back of a quick tap from penalty. An all-in melee, that had been brewing throughout, resulted before Iona snapped the conversion for a 41-19 scoreline.

Warringah were abrasive and committed to the end and the passion flowed into a melee.

But that’s another area where teams have under-estimated the Students this year. They’ve been niggled at by the best, but they’ve stood their ground, kept their patience and, at the end of the day, they’ve looked at the scoreboard with pride.

They have a committed and skilful pack providing fruit for a halfback who has grown in stature with each game. Indeed, the increase in length of Gordon’s left to right passing has created new opportunities for the backs.

For those with long memories, this was a revenge win from the 2005 season when the Shute Shield and Tooheys New Cup competitions were run back-to-back.

Warringah hosted Sydney University in the Shute Shield grand final at Rat Park that year and ran out 29-23 winners on the back of a very lop-sided penalty count. All things come to pass.

First Grade (Shute Shield)

First Grade: Sydney University 41 (Folau Fainga’a, Tomas Robertson, Jake Gordon, Jack Redden, Angus Roberts tries; Christian Kagiassis 4 goals, field goal) defeated Warringah 19 (Luke Holmes, Josh Holmes, Jack Sullivan tries; Rodney Iona goal, Josh Gillard goal) Sydney University Football Ground Oval on Saturday.