University back in winner’s circle

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By “China”
In a physical encounter resembling scenes from Ridley Scott’s epic Gladiator, a bumper crowd at Manly Oval was treated to three sin bins, running skirmishes and a penalty try as Sydney University defeated third-placed Manly 20-17.
Following the deluge experienced by Sydney during the past three weeks, it was a welcome return to have all University teams playing on a dry surface.
University were denied an early try by winger Peter Betham when a touch judge’s report alleged that towering University second-rower Sam Carter had punched a Manly player off the ball. Referee Angus Gardner subsequently disallowed the try and sent Brtham to the sin bin. Sin bin 1.
With a forward down, the Students’ pack was placed under pressure at a five-metre scrum and Manly’s livewire half Chris Cottee took advantage to scamper over for the opening try. Fullback Adam D’Arcy landed the conversion and added a penalty goal soon after as the hosts took a 10-nil lead.
With 15 minutes remaining in the first half, a sweeping backline from Sydney University resulted in Melbourne Rebels boundBetham scoring in the north-western corner. Five-eighth Daniel Halangahu’s conversion attempt was unsuccessful but the Students had halved the margin.
And on the stroke of half time, a Halangahu penalty goal reduced the deficit to 10-8 when Manly centre Tyrone Smith was shown a yellow card when he committed a professional foul by killing the ball at the ruck as the Students mounted a pick-and-drive attack. Sin bin 2.
Sydney University failed to capitalise on the one-man advantage after the break. Indeed the advantage swung back to Manly when captain Tom Carter stymied a Manly backline raid with a ball-and-all tackle into touch. A melee ensued and referee Gardner dispatched Carter on a 10-minute “holiday”. Sin bin 3.
When Cottee scored his second – once again from a five-metre scrum on the University line – and D’Arcy converted, the hosts led 17-8 and things were not looking good for the Students.
But with their backs to the wall, University’s blood and guts determination came back. Betham was stepping and jinking through the Manly side with the aplomb of a Dancing with the Stars contestant. And newly-signed Western Force hooker and noted cheese connoisseur Nathan Charles used his 107kg of mobility to break the line.
After sustained University pressure a backline move saw fullback Julian Huxley make the extra man to score. The conversion was unsuccessful and with the clock running down to the final 10 minutes a heart-pounding finale was on the cards.
After acquiring their second wind, University forced a five-metre lineout from the Manly line and engineered a traditional rolling maul. In attempting to defuse the well-executed maul, Manly caught the ire of referee Gardner, who awarded a penalty try to the Students. Huxley’s conversion pushed the visitors ahead 20-17.
With only a minute to play, Manly chanced their arm from the restart and passed along their backline inside their quarter. D’Arcy, their best player on the day, swept down the western touchline but he was collared by the defence and University earned some welcome competition points after a slow start to the season.
The return of up to nine Super 14 players proved a bonus for University as the pressure was frenetic throughout the game and experienced heads were called for.
In a successful day for the club, Second Grade won 27-13, the mighty Thirds triumphed 41-7 with the rampaging Fava “Brontosaurus” Sailosi having his best game of the season, and Fourth Grade, under the brains trust of the two Lukes – Thiessen and former NRL enforcer Campton – won 18-10.
Fourth Grade was marred by pugilist and inspiration for Toy Story 3’s Mr Potato Head, John Hopoate being sin-binned for king-hitting University second-rower John Langford off the ball.
Sydney Grade competition – Round 9
First Grade: Sydney University 20 (Peter Betham, Julian Huxley tries, pen try; Julian Huxley goal, Daniel Halangahu pen goal) d Manly 17 (Chris Cottee 2 tries; Adam D’Arcy 2 goals, pen goal) at Manly Oval.
Second Grade: Sydney University 25 (James Riches, Sam Hosking, Nick Phipps tries; Justin Boslikovski 2 goals, 2 pen goals) d Manly 13 (Joe Metisula try; Mark Swanepoel goal, 2 pen goals).
Third Grade: Sydney University 41 (Tom Wallace, Dane Cole-Clarke, Oliver Gresham, Alex Concannon, Lance Alaalatoa, Tony L’Estrange, Cameron Lawrence tries; Toby L’Estrange 2 goals, Nick Phipps goal) d Manly 7 (Kurt Mulchay try; Corey Murphy goal).
Fourth Grade: Sydney University 21 (E. Boyce, Grant Clark tries; J Metcalfe goal, 3 pen goals) d Manly 10 (M. Daniel try; Harry Berryman goal, pen goal).
First Grade: Sydney University 43 (7 tries) d Gordon 18.
Second Grade: Sydney University 20 d Gordon 15.
Third Grade: Gordon 17 d Sydney University 15.