Sydney University silenced the parochial peninsular fans at Pittwater Rugby Park on Saturday when they scored a converted try after the bell to snatch a 31-29 win.
Prop Jerry Yanuyanutawa levelled the scores with a try in the corner three phases after the final bell had sounded and five-eighth Daniel Halangahu guided home a sideline conversion for the competition points.
With ladder leaders Manly having succumbed 31-22 to West Harbour, Sydney University closed in on another minor premiership. Manly head the competition ladder on 59 points, with Sydney University (55), Randwick (52), Eastern Suburbs (49), Gordon (47) and Eastwood (44) making up the top six.
Having run in 31 tries in their previous three outings, the Students changed tactics in the first half against Warringah and decided the boot was the best way to gain field position. The tactic failed miserably with Warringah winning most of the kicking exchanges and dominating possession and field position.
The hosts duly ran in three first-half tries to lead 22-12 at the break, while Halangahu kept the Students in the game with four penalties.
Dylan Smouha came off the blind-side wing in the 11th minute to score the first of his treble after nice lead-up passes from five-eighth Sam Harris and inside-centre Josh Holmes.
The pair combined again in the 23rd minute to send Smouha over in the left corner. He touched down again in the same spot just before the break after good lead-up work from prop Pingi Talaapitaga and outside-centre Haig Sare.
Sydney University changed their tactics for the second half, keeping the ball in hand and stringing together quick phase plays. The ploy worked well in the 54th minute when Halangahu used a four-phase build-up to step his way over under the posts.
A precise three-phase build-up four minutes later resulted in number eight Tim Davidson crossing wide out after lead-up passes from Yanuyanutawa, outside-centre Mitch Inman and winger Alfred Mafi.
But the Students only held the 24-22 advantage for six minutes before the hosts struck again when halfback Brett Sheehan took a quick tap penalty and combined with Harris and fullback Pat McCabe to send Sare over. Sheehan’s conversion gave the hosts a 29-24 advantage with 16 minutes on the clock.
The Students controlled possession and territory for the rest of the match with, Inman, Davidson, prop Patrick Ryan and Halangahu all threatening the line and the desperate Warringah defence.
With the bell sounded, the Students shifted the ball to the right, won a quick phase possession and attacked the middle of the ground before moving the ball to the left where skipper Dave Dennis drew the defence to send Yanuyanutawa over in the corner to level the score.
Halangahu coolly landed the touchline conversion for the competition points and a personal tally of 21 for the match.
The Students had the services of flanker Phil Waugh until half-time when he was replaced by David Haigh, with hookers Ben Roberts and Nathan Charles also getting 40 minutes each.
The Students finished on top in the scrum – when they were allowed to pack – and took a tighthead on the strike, but they were sloppy on occasions at the lineout.
Despite one dropped catch, Mafi had a busy time on the wing and was dangerous with the ball in hand.
Sydney University will host Southern Districts this Saturday.
Shute Shield – Round 15
First Grade: Sydney University 31 (Jerry Yanuyanutawa, Tim Davidson, Daniel Halangahu tries; Daniel Halangahu 2 goals, 4 pen goals) d Warringah 29 (Dylan Smouha 3, Haig Sare tries; Brett Sheehan 3 goals, pen goal) at Pittwater Rugby Park.
Second Grade: Sydney University 31 (Tom Tombleson 2, Peter Betham, Jacob Taylor tries; Justin Bosilkovski 4 goals, pen goal).
Third Grade: Warringah 14 (Nathan Burrows, Michael Ruthven tries; Michael Ruthven 2 goals) d Sydney University 3 (Hayden Bushell pen goal).
Fourth Grade: Sydney University 10 (Tim Mundy. Josh Munro tries) d Warringah 7 (Brooke Eadie try; Andrew Maxwell goal).
First Grade: Sydney University 38 (6 tries) d Warringah 17.
Second Grade: Sydney University 83 (13 tries) d Warringah 17.
Third Grade: Sydney University 63 (9 tries) d Warringah 3.
Sydney University 27 d Parramatta 17.