Defending Shute Shield premiers Sydney University took over the competition lead on Saturday with their 59-18 win over Southern Districts leap-frogging them over Manly, who suffered a 23-7 loss to Warringah.
With six rounds remaining, Sydney University head the ladder on 60 points, with Manly (59), Randwick (56), Gordon (52), Eastwood (49) and Eastern Suburbs (49) making up the top six.
Good students have long memories; good coaches never forget. And so it was at No.1 Oval on Saturday with each of Sydney University’s nine tries soothing memories of the round five loss to Southern Districts at Forshaw Park.
Sydney University had a four-try bonus point in the bag when they led 26-8 at half-time and went on with the job in the second half, posting another five tries. Fullback Nathan Trist scored four, while five-eighth Daniel Halangahu’s 19-point haul from seven goals and a try took him to 100 points for the season.
Tom Carter, returning from injury and slotting in at outside-centre, scored the University’s first try in a 9th minute set play off a scrum when he ran an inside line off Halangahu and went over untouched.
Former University halfback Nathan Seivert reduced the margin to 7-3 with a 10th minute penalty and it wasn’t until a quarter of the game had passed that the hosts began stretching the margin.
Trist scored his first trailing a grubber from Halangahu, who backed up that play minutes later with his own try off a dominant scrum 20 metres from the line.
Souths reduced the margin to 21-8 when hooker John Ulugia scored the first of a pair after good lead-up work from five-eighth Zac Mullane and outside-centre Chris Kerr.
But the Students hit back just before the break when number eight Tim Davidson and second-rowers Dave Dennis and Ben McCalman combined to send Trist over for the bonus point try.
The second half was only two minutes old when Davidson ran off a pass from winger Alfi Mafi and employed a palm and a swerve to cruise 40 metres for a try.
Another strong scrum close to Southern Districts’ line resulted in inside-centre Dan Kelly beating two tackles to score.
The visitors hit back with a multi-phase passage of play on the University line resulting in Ulugia’s second from a pick-and-drive, but the hosts replied through a strong break from McCalman who sent prop Jerry Yanuyanutawa on a rampaging run to the line.
Southern Districts replied again when Seivert took a quick tap penalty and sent fullback Matt Rafferty on a long run down the left flank. When the busy custodian was collared, the ball was moved quickly across the backline, resulting in replacement centre Brackin Henry scoring in the right corner.
With the clock ticking down, prop Pat Ryan picked up a loose ball on halfway and sent Trist on a 40-metre run for his fourth try, while Mafi rounded out proceedings with a 78th minute try on the back of good lead-up play from replacement halfback Matt Schwager, Kelly and hooker Nathan Charles.
The Students played 10 minutes of the second half without winger Nick Edwards, who was sin-binned for a ruck infringement.
But it didn’t affect University’s momentum, with the lineout back in order and the scrum gaining the upper hand. And the kicking game – when employed – was an improvement on the previous week against Warringah.
The Students cross the harbour to play Northern Suburbs next Saturday, with the run home including Randwick and Gordon at home, Eastern Suburbs at Woollahra Oval, Manly at Manly Oval and Eastwood at home.
First Grade: Sydney University 59 (Nathan Trist 4, Tim Davidson, Daniel Halangahu, Dan Kelly, Tom Carter, Alfi Mafi tries; Daniel Halangahu 7 goals) d Southern Districts 19 (John Ulugia 2, Brackin Henry tries; Nathan Seivert pen goal) at Sydney University No.1 Oval.
Second Grade: Sydney University 35 (Sam Carter, Jono Jenkins, Tom Tombleson. Mitch Inman. Robert O’Reilly tries; Justin Bosilkovski 5 goals) d Southern Districts 8 (Brackin Henry try; Darren Kapene pen goal).
Third Grade: Sydney University 26 (Josh Ellice-Flint, Dan Lewinski, Victor Ioane, Hayden Bushell tries; Hayden Bushell 3 goals) d Southern Districts 0.
Fourth Grade: Sydney University 26 (Harry Marples 2, Simon Kinsey, Francis Raikodroka tries; Josh Munro 3 goals) d Southern Districts 12 (Pat Orth, Andrew Morris tries; R. Jennings goal).
First Grade: Sydney University 39 (5 tries) d Southern Districts 31 (5 tries) at Forshaw Park.
Second Grade: Sydney University 76 (12 tries) d Southern Districts 0.
Third Grade: Sydney University 69 (11 tries) d Southern Districts 0.