If the recent Mayweather Pacquiao bout was billed as the ultimate battle then Sydney University and Eastwood games ranks up there also . Last Saturday’s fixture at the T.G. Millner Field saw a seesawing scoreline which would puzzle a Newtown clairvoyant. University had a narrow loss of 34-29 but the result could have gone to the Students with an ounce of luck.
The early University tactic was to throw the ball which paid dividends. In the second minute repeated recycling allowed University to camp themselves inside the Eastwood 22 metre area. The pressure of University’s attack saw breakaway and captain David Hickey explode onto a ball splitting the defence to plant the ball near the posts for an easy conversion.
University maintained this successful formula when another attacking phase was mounted inside the Eastwood quarter following the kickoff. A penalty to University five metres out from the Eastwood line was exploited by the returning University centre that wily old fox – Tom Carter. Carter hoodwinked the defence by taking a quick tap and burrow over the line to score.
A 14 point lead is a handy buffer in any game but against the wounded Woods it makes them more determined to hit back. This came to fruition when Eastwood were able to attack inside the Students 22 metre area. With an open side thin on defence Eastwood channelled the ball to the right allowing their winger Shorter to score in the corner.
The action was looking promising for the Students after securing the ball after the kickoff. That was until an unfortunate intercept by Eastwood fullback Batger after a promising University buildup. It felt like forgetting to buy a mothers day present with this length of the field try. Scores were 14-12 still favouring the Students but Eastwood were acquiring that valuable commodity momentum. Attacking down the club house channel saw big winger John Grant back up to score in the corner.
The game was being played at an incredible pace and any luck would be savoured. When University second rower Liam Winton crashed over for what appeared to be a legitimate try being disallowed, the colossus adonis Winton dusted himself off the ground bewildered that his effort was all in vain.
University’s dynamic Hickey leading by example reversed the scoreline once again. Running off a short ball , Hickey once again fractured the Eastwood defence and dash away for his second five pointer. At 21-19 to the Students, the game was a great spectacle for Sydney club rugby.
A Batger penalty on the eve of halftime saw the scoreline revert to Eastwood at 22-21. Both sides earned a rehydration ready to lock horns again for the second half.
The excellent conditions were a welcome respite from the previous weeks of torrential rain. There was a healthy crowd perched on the grass banks and stands. Only the appearance of H.R.H. Prince Harry with an Australian fiancée could supplant the crowds focus on this magic Sydney afternoon.
Byron Hodge commenced the second half with an early long range penalty. But again Eastwood countered with their halfback Snowden backing up for a try under the posts. Eastwood commenced to exploit the left hand flank of the Students and two further Eastwood tries were quickly scored.
34-24 was now favoured Eastwood and University had 10 minutes left on the clock to make amends. Gambles had to be taken. University’s attack was pounding the Eastwood tryline. But it was left to a deft diagonal kick by University five eighth Stuart Dunbar into the in goal area that brought home a try through winger Mark O’Dare.
The last minutes of the match showed exhaustion levels reach extreme by both teams as everything was thrown at each other. Unfortunately time ran out and Eastwood prevailed at 34-29. An agonising defeat but a classic rugby battle between two respected rivals.