05.05.2008 – Graham Croker
It rained bombs at Chatswood Oval on Saturday when Gordon decided to test young Sydney University fullback Jacob Taylor, but the 50:50 option didn’t pay dividends for the Highlanders as the Students ran in six tries to two in a comfortable 38-18 win.
Taylor was looking to the heavens for much of the match as Gordon five-eighth Dave Harvey launched a series of spiralling cloud-clingers. But despite some inconvenience, the Students scrambled well and stormed home with four quick tries after trailing 18-14 four minutes into the second half.
The Students once again dominated at the scrum, but turned over six lineouts, including five in the first half, and put themselves under more pressure when receiving kick-offs. Indeed the first points of the match resulted from the opening kick-off, which the Students mangled and then gave up a penalty in front of the posts. A quick tap from halfback Vinnie Byrne resulted in him being driven over under the posts for Harvey to convert.
The first bomb of the match resulted in another penalty, courtesy of a dangerous tackle from flanker Jono Jenkins, and Harvey’s penalty had the hosts leading 10-nil after six minutes.
The assault continued on the back of three successive lineout steals and it wasn’t until the 15th minute that the Students threatened through a break from outside-centre Lachlan Mitchell, who found number eight Tim Davidson in support.
Halfback Nick Haydon, flankers Patrick McCutcheon and Jenkins and second-rower Ben McCalman continued the parry and from the third phase a well delivered pass from five-eighth Dan Kelly allowed inside-centre Daniel Halangahu to thread through a hole to score under the posts. Halangahu converted and the visitors were back in the match.
They took the lead in the 26th minute off a midfield scrum, with Mitchell finding Kelly in support. He delivered another wonderful pass to send winger Lachlan Rosengreen on a weaving run to score under the posts for Halangahu to convert.
Harvey landed a second penalty goal seconds from half-time for a 14-13 scoreline in favour of the visitors.
That was short-lived, however, when the Highlanders thwarted a seven-phase University build-up soon after the break, with winger Terry Preston collecting a loose ball at the side of a ruck and outpacing the cover in a 70-metre run to the line.
With the lineout a suspect commodity, the Students kept the ball in hand and continued to put phases together to dominate possession and territory.
The tactics paid dividends and the floodgates opened 10 minutes into the half when another well-placed Kelly pass sent Mitchell over in the corner. Halangahu converted from the touchline and then made a scything run soon after the restart, with Jenkins and Davidson in support. Davidson’s pass from the tackle sent Kelly over under the posts. The Halangahu conversion gave the Students a 28-18 lead with the threat of more to come.
Although Gordon claimed possession from the kick-off, they immediately turned it over, allowing University prop Jerry Yanuyanutawa to make a trademark break down the right touchline. Starting from 60 metres out, the big ship SS Jerry almost outran the cover before being ankle tapped by Harvey with the line in sight. But he had the presence of mind to look up and find Haydon in support and delivered a pass off the ground for a well-deserved try.
The Students had run up 19 points in 10 minutes to take control of the match with a bonus point to boot.
Ironically, having been dusted in the lineouts, the Students’ final try came from that avenue, when young second-rower Dave McDuling, in his second game in First Grade, claimed the throw jumping at two and dropped it down to halfback Haydon, who ran past the front of the lineout to score in the corner. It was a well-worked move that will go back into the kitbag for another surprise outing later in the season.
The hosts were well-served by their lineout, Byrne had a busy game behind pack that was driven backwards at every scrum, and all of Harvey’s bombs had danger written on them.
For the Students, tighthead Laurie Weeks set the standard at the scrum, Davidson and McCalman were busy and strong, Haydon was always on hand to tidy up, Halangahu and Mitchell were dangerous in attack and replacement back Leo Afeaki made his presence felt from limited opportunities.
Tactically, the Students kept the ball in hand and the points flowed. Unfortunately for Gordon, the bombs didn’t reign.
Sydney University will host the much-improved Penrith this Saturday.
First Grade: Sydney University 38 (Nick Haydon 2, Daniel Halangahu, Lachlan Rosengreen, Dan P Kelly, Lachlan Mitchell tries; Daniel Halangahu 4 goals) d Gordon 18 (Vinnie Byrne, Terry Preston tries; David Harvey goal, 2 pen goals) at Chatswood Oval.
Second Grade: Sydney University 29 (Shayne Smith, Dan C Kelly, Michael Woodward, Scott Cameron tries; Dan C Kelly 2 goal, pen goal) d Gordon 21 (Paulie Tuala, Matt McDougall, Brad McGregor tries; Donny Nepia 3 goals).
Third Grade: Gordon 27 (Ossie Saqa, Gordon Kome, Mike Ryan, Andrew McCarthy tries; Daniel Neiass 2 goals, pen goal) d Sydney University 0.
Fourth Grade: Sydney University 19 (Hugo Dessens, Jono Bowman, Joel Rivers tries; Will Stow 2 goals) d Gordon 14 (A Harris, N Smith tries; A Harris 2 goals).
First Grade: Sydney University 47 (7 tries) d Gordon 3.
Second Grade: Sydney University 21 d Gordon 19.
Third Grade: Sydney 22 (4 tries) d Gordon 0.
Sydney University 19 d Killara West Pymble 3.
Sydney University 28 d Engadine 0.