Graham Croker

Sydney University Football Club’s shot at a third consecutive Australian Club Championship imploded at ANZ Stadium on Saturday night when Brisbane’s East Tigers turned in a stunning second half to win 38-31.
The winners of the respective Sydney and Brisbane club competitions met as a curtain-raiser to the NSW Waratahs v Canterbury Crusaders Super 14 clash and it looked like one-way traffic as the Students ran up a 19-nil lead at half-time, which was extended to 24-nil one minute after the resumption.
But Cromwell Easts Tigers suddenly hit their straps with a five-try counter assault, led by fullback David Lucas with a treble and five-pointers to winger Coen Ladewig and centre Pale Toelupe. Former Wallaby utility back, Andrew Walker also contributed to the fightback, landing five conversions from a range of angles and a 55-metre penalty goal as the visitors rattled up 38 points in 30 minutes.
For Sydney University, young outside-centre Michael Hodge, fresh from Colts, grabbed two tries, with number eight Jono Bowman, prop Jerry Yanuyanutawa and replacement fullback Jacob Taylor scoring one each, while fullback Nathan Trist landed two conversions and Taylor one.
After winning the Sydney premiership in 2005 and 2006, Sydney University decided to reinstate the Australian Club Championship, which had been in abeyance for a number of years, by challenging West Brisbane Bulldogs for the 2006 title.
The Sydneysiders duly won that encounter 36-5 in Brisbane and successfully defended the title last year when they defeated Sunnybank, the 2007 Brisbane premiers, 24-nil.
The matches are sanctioned by the Australian Rugby Union and the NSW and Queensland unions and have been incorporated as curtain-raisers to Super 14 games.