26.05.2008 – Graham Croker
A Daniel Halangahu penalty goal in the 78th minute guided Sydney University to a nail-biting 28-26 win over Warringah at Pittwater Rugby Park on Saturday.
The Students’ unbeaten run in the 2008 Shute Shield competition was under severe threat when the hosts went to the break leading 21-11 and maintained the margin until midway through the second half when Sydney University ran in two converted tries to snatch a 25-21 lead.
But it was short-lived. A try to winger Pat McCabe put Warringah back in front 26-25 as the final 10 minutes turned into a war of attrition. Sydney University’s well-drilled forward pack worked play deep into Warringah territory, a penalty was awarded from a breakdown in front of the posts, and Halangahu snatched victory for the Students. It was a gripping affair that was met with sustained booing from Warringah supporters when the final whistle sounded.
With fullback Mark Gerard and inside-centre Sam Harris back in the green and white, Warringah looked a formidable force on paper, and the pair didn’t let their supporters down on the park.
Harris continually unleashed his outside runners with short and long passes, while Gerard tried everything in his considerable armory to grab victory. He bobbed up in most backline raids, and employed several towering bombs, a chip kick and a grubber to upset the University defence in a man-of-the-match performance.
The Students took an early 6-nil lead from two Halangahu penalty goals before Warringah struck back with a penalty goal from centre Clint Eadie and a long-range try from winger Ed Doyle. Halfback Sam Hutcherson broke the defensive line on halfway and linked up with Harris, who sent his winger down the left flank for a try in the corner and an 8-6 advantage.
Eadie landed another penalty and McCabe bagged the first of his two tries when five-eighth Michael Ruthven, Eadie, Harris and Gerard handled before the winger ended a 45-metre assault.
Eadie converted and landed another penalty goal in the 37th minute for the hosts to go to the break in convincing fashion.
Three lineout steals and three University turnovers at the breakdown allowed the hosts to maintain their advantage until the 68th minute when the Students struck back with two converted tries.
A bustling run from winger Ed Jenkins put them in striking distance and earned a penalty. Halfback Nick Haydon took the tap option, set up a maul near the Warringah line and flanker Jono Jenkins earned the five points with a try next to the uprights.
From the restart, Halangahu cracked the Warringah defence on halfway and found support in Haydon, who unleashed fullback Lachlan Mitchell on a 40-metre run to score under the posts and put the Students back in front.
Not to be outdone, the hosts hit back with a six-phase assault before Harris found Gerard with a long cut-out pass and the custodian sent McCabe in for his second try and the lead with nine minutes remaining.
The Students rallied, worked play upfield and Halangahu ended a grandstand finish with a match-winning penalty goal.
Despite the 37 infringement rulings (19-18 to the Students), the match produced some quality football, particularly from the Warringah backs, some sterling defence from the Students, and scoreline that kept everyone on the edge of their seats.
The win was a fine result for University captain Tim Davidson in his 100th game for the club.
First Grade: Sydney University 28 (Jono Jenkins, Leo Aseaki, Lachlan Mitchell tries; Daniel Halangahu 2 goals, 3 pen goals) d Warringah 26 (Pat McCabe 2, Ed Doyle tries; Clint Eadie goal, 3 pen goals) at Pittwater Rugby Park.
Second Grade: Sydney University 28 (David Fungalei, Harrison Brown, Nick Edwards tries; Dan C Kelly 2 goals, 3 pen goals) d Warringah 10 (Ryan Oldfield, Matt Tiller tries).
Third Grade: Sydney University 14 (Will Stow, Tasi Fonua tries; Justin Bosilkovski 2 goals) d Warringah 7 (Matt Tiller try; JP Murphy goal).
Fourth Grade: Sydney University 64 (Hugo Dessens 2, Darren Amituania 2, Simon Kinsey, Jamie Whelan, Tasi Fonua, James Lee-Warner, Tim Birch, J Clime tries; Jamie Whelan 7 goals) d Warringah 3 (Mark Thompson pen goal).
Meldrum Cup: Sydney University 36 d Manly Savers 10.
First Grade: Sydney University 59 (9 tries) d Warringah 12.
Second Grade: Sydney University 51 (8 tries) d Warringah 8.
Third Grade: Sydney University 66 (10 tries) d Warringah 7.