By “China”

For a consecutive week, Sydney University played in atrocious weather conditions as they battled the big West Harbour Pirates in their round 4 Shute Shield match at University No: 1 Oval last Saturday.

With the persistent rain converting the centre wicket area into a pot of Hungarian goulash, any likelihood of free flowing rugby was wishful thinking on this first ‘Super Saturday’ for the season.

However, the sticky conditions were of no concern to University’s Australian Sevens representative fullback Jacob Taylor. Running hotter than a Szechuan chilli, the club’s Asian scholar made a scything run deep into the West Harbour quarter. A number of pick and drives thereafter resulted in Wests being penalised for being offside. Five eighth Danny Kroll kicked the penalty and the Students were leading 3-0. Another penalty awarded against West’s saw Kroll kick another penalty for University to lead 6-0 mid way through the first half.

The lead was only temporary as a set move inside the University half saw West’s score a deserved try.  From a scrum, the ball was swung to the left. A cut out from the five eighth to outside centre Henry Seavula saw the big centre motor through a gap.  Seavula drew the defence and later passed to fullback Liam Windon who scored  near the uprights. Five eighth Shaun Treweek converted the try for the Pirates to lead 7-6.  This score ended the first half as both teams attempted to minimise any mistakes and take their opportunities in the difficult conditions.

The second half saw the Pirates run towards the south. Wests were able to camp themselves in the University half for the first 15 minutes and the Students were starved of any possession. A chip kick behind the first line of defence saw West’s fullback Liam Windon score his second try.  Using some impressive speed, Windon tip toed down the touchline to regather the dribbling ball and score in the south east corner. Treweek missed the sideline conversion for a score of 12-6 favouring Wests.  With 20 minutes remaining and ball possession difficult to attain, the Students required some character building quickly. 

With 10 minutes remaining in the game, University received their first bit of luck.  A West’s indiscretion saw University form a lineout five metres from the Pirates tryline.  The lineout saw the Students well orchestrated five metre rolling maul put into action. The concerted effort of the University pack saw a massive drive towards the Wests line culminating in University hooker Ben Roberts burrowing through a jam of bodies like a busy little beaver to deliver the much needed five points. Replacement five eighth Angus Roberts kicked the conversion and with seven minutes left in the game, University was leading 13-12.

From the restart University were able to work their way back inside West Harbour territory. A penalty against West’s saw University seek territory inside the West’s half.  The lineout saw University apply a devastating rolling maul against a far bigger pack of forwards. The Students pack saw a 20 metre rolling maul inch towards the West Harbour quarter.  A shoulder charge by Wests to thwart the University momentum saw a penalty awarded. Roberts kicked the penalty  for a 16-12 scoreline to the Students. The final 2 minutes saw University hold out the Pirates to maintain the score of 16-12.    

Although the victory was a handy four points without any glimpses of spectacular play,  head coach Todd Louden was satisfied with the effort by his charges.  Coach Louden said after the game, “It was an ugly win but, its days like this that define us.” This resolve by the young first fifteen to ‘tough it out’ when it mattered was indicative of their fighting qualities as mentioned by club stalwart Alan Williamson in a stirring pre match address.   

The entire day was overall successful for the University club.  The only hiccup was fourth grade losing to West’s on the bell for a score of 13-6. Coaches ‘Denzel’ Simpson and Clint Allardice will no doubt use the loss as a guide to fine tune any kinks in their ‘dirty two dozen’ 2011 campaign. Third grade continued their unbeaten run with a fiery 20-3 victory.  The smiling hooker Matt Mafi continued to assert his skills in his first season with the club with a grafting try. Tight head prop Joe Horn-Smith was no shrinking violet in fiery exchanges with the West’s forward pack.  Second grade reversed last week’s loss with a comprehensive victory of 59-6.