Sydney University



3 June 2023

By Bruce ‘China’ Lin


All those hours attempting to fine tune their play at  their high standards came to fruition last Saturday at the T.G. Millner Field. In their best performance to date, University piled on the points to defeat their traditional rivals Eastwood by 38-19.

Instead of appearing as the quintessential *rusticate cohort, University took on the persona of an aggressive urban vortex running roughshod over their arch nemesis. 

Ten minutes it took for the Students to score first. A line out ball inside the Eastwood quarter was spun wide and recycled rapidly. The ball went from east to west and some picking and driving near the grandstand blindside saw a ruck formed. Standout backrower Mali Manukia scooped up the ball laid back by the man with the Moses like presence of Sydney rugby Henry Clunies-Ross. ‘Little’ Mali nonchalantly borrowed low to smash his way over for a try.

The early lead did not last long. Eastwood hoisted a kick deep inside the University quarter. A mistiming of the catch allowed the Eastwood winger to capitalize scooping up the ball for an  easy try.  

The Students did not rest. Pressing inside the Woods five metre area a series of rucks saw them within a whisker to scoring by the forwards. But Clunies-Ross had that streak of white line fever and executed a crash ball splintering the defenders to score adjacent to the posts for a seven pointer. This scoreline of 12-7 held out till the end of the first half.  

The first half could fairly be described as in University’s favour. They looked strong and despite an easy try those at the ground could sense that University might have just rediscovered what that international man of mystery Austin Powers had…mojo!

Whatever was said by the coaching staff in the dressing sheds at halftime should be patented. Eastwood was kept at 7 nil for the majority of the second half as University’s forwards commenced to shred their opponents. Numerous lengthy driving mauls was being executed by the Students which Eastwood could not counter.

When the ball was given width the backline brought home the goodies. Some fast hands saw the ball received by fullback Sam Bignold. With his legs pumping a legacy of pre-season squatting of 200 kgs on a 68.5 kg frame, young Sam smashed over for his maiden first grade try. You could practically hear his mother Sharon register 6.1 on the richter scale from their inner west epicentre  with elation after the try.

University then cranked up the heat after the sin binning and red carding of University’s Luke Ratcliff and Eastwood back rower Tuisese respectively for an episode of UFC comes to Marsfield. University tries arrived with a rolling maul then the try of the day came from the Captain from Cumnock Jack McCalman. With University back pedalling Eastwood with their efficient rucking game McCalman sensed an Eastwood gap bigger than the power bill for Vivid. McCalman took off and for some reason the Eastwood defence could not pin him down. A trail of flotsam and jetsam in players were strewn in his wake. McCalman crashed over to the rapturous applause of the blue and gold faithful.

But the party did not end there and soon after the after dinner mint was delivered by replacement flanker Will Cocker. Looking unlike his distant cousin the late British rocker Joe Cocker, big Will now resplendent with his mane styled in a one and a half short sides and tapered back, bowled over the line after another phase of University picks and drives.

About eight minutes were left on the game clock and University had the game well and truly won at a scoreline of 38-7. But never underestimate a wounded Eastwood and to their credit they came away with two tries and pressing for a fourth a bonus point until the match ended with a spilled ball to end the game 38-19.

A fine result by the Students and showing the traits why they will be a threat later on in the season.

After a week’s hiatus for the June long weekend the club is back at University for a great game against the resurgent Manly Marlins.


*Rusticate- to settle in the country and live a rural life