Graham Croker
The odds on Sydney University claiming a fifth consecutive premiership wound in a notch on Saturday when they ran in nine tries in a 60-15 disposal of West Harbour at University No.1 Oval.
The Students have scored 31 tries in their past three outings and have improved their execution with each hit-out.
West Harbour are not easybeats. They have a strong scrum – as per usual – and a big backline that was reshuffled in the 18th minute with the arrival of Waratah back Timana Tahu, who hadn’t been named in the run-on side.
The Students, bolstered by the return of flanker Phil Waugh, had rattled up a 14-3 lead by that stage with fullback Nathan Trist grabbing the first off a well-worked move featuring five-eighth Daniel Halangahu, winger Alfred Mafi and centres Dan Kelly and Peter Betham, and the second off a grubber to the line from Kelly.
Kelly then sent flanker Pat McCutcheon over and with Halangahu landing all conversions and a penalty the hosts had established a 24-3 lead.
Tahu made his presence felt in the 33rd minute when he lobbed an overhead pass to winger Henry Seavalu, who scored in the corner and converted from the sideline.
Sydney University finished the first half with a bonus point try when Waugh collected the crumbs from a West Harbour bomb and number eight David Haigh and Halangahu combined to send winger Nick Edwards on a long run to the line. The Students went to the break leading 31-10.
Mafi set the scene for the second half with an elusive break down the left flank. Kelly capitalised with a long pass to hooker Ben Roberts who sent prop Patrick Ryan over in the corner.
Trist engineered a try for Mafi and Ryan bagged a second after a three-phase build-up and the hosts were in front 48-10.
West Harbour hit back with a great backline try featuring five-eighth Jai Ayoub and Tahu, who combined to send Seavalu on a long run to the line and expose a defensive lapse in the University backline.
A brilliant catch and pass from Kelly instigated the University’s eighth try, with Halangahu and replacement prop Scott Cameron linking to send flanker Pat McCutcheon over.
And a blindside snipe from halfback Scott Stumbles provided number eight David Haigh with a touchdown to round out the University scoring and a comprehensive win.
The Students are playing with precision and pace and sustaining the effort, with a mobile pack securing good ball at the breakdown and an industrious backline keen to post points through ball-in-hand rugby.
All roads lead to Rat Park for the match against Warringah on Saturday.

Shute Shield – Round 14

First Grade: Sydney University 60 (Patrick Ryan 2, Pat McCutcheon 2, Nathan Trist 2, David Haigh, Nick Edwards, Alfi Mafi tries; Daniel Halangahu 5 goals, pen goal, Nathan Trist goal) d West Harbour 15 (Henry Seavula 2 tries; Henry Seavula goal, Steve Massey pen goal) at Sydney University No.1 Oval.
Second Grade: Sydney University 50 (Richard Finau 2, Scott Cameron, Jono Owen, Tim Davidson, Julian James, Tom Tombleson, Sam Hosking tries; Justin Bosilkovski 5 goals) d West Harbour ).
Third Grade: Sydney University 36 (Oliver Atkins, Sam Hosking, Simon Mieklejohn, Tom Tombleson, Tim Broomham, Hugh Caterson tries; Hayden Bushell 2, Toby L’Estrange goals) d West Harbour 12 (Sim Loketi, Peter Wagener tries; David Fong goal).
Fourth Grade: West Harbour 21 (Fatani Finefeaiali, Gerard Elliott tries; Luke Schafer goal, 3 pen goals) d Sydney University 12 (Andrew Battishall, Hugh Dessen tries; Will Stow goal).
First Grade: Sydney University 77 (13 tries) d West Harbour 21.
Second Grade: 34 (5 tries) d West Harbour 8.
Third Grade: Sydney University 44 (8 tries) d West Harbour 10.