Graham Croker

Sydney University kept the Sydney Premier Rugby Shute Shield competition leaders in their sights with a tough 35-17 win over Penrith at Nepean Rugby Park on Saturday.

The Students moved to 5th on the competition after collecting a four-try bonus point in posting their third win from five outings.

Unbeaten Eastwood head the competition ladder on 23 points, with Gordon (19), Eastern Suburbs (18), Manly (16), Sydney University (15) and Southern Districts (14) making up the top six.

Sydney University established an 18-5 half-time lead at Penrith, a scoreline that might have produced fewer grey hairs for coaches had the goalkickers been on target – they landed two for the afternoon while missing throw-over attempts from in front.

While the toe-pokers were off, the scrummaging was on, producing pushover tries in each half and providing plenty of usable set-piece ball.

Five-eighth Angus Roberts opened the scoring with a penalty goal midway through the first half. The Students followed that with the first of the push-over tries, with hooker Ben Roberts scoring from a five-metre scrum.

Penrith reduced the margin to 8-5 when giant inside-centre Hamilton Va’allepa drew the University defence and produced a one-hand offload to winger Viliami Napa’a, who outpaced the cover defence to score in the corner.

The Students attacked the blindside from the restart, resulting in Roberts sending winger Levi Dodd over from a deft off-load. Dodd, a former NRL Cronulla Shark, showed plenty of determination to cross the line in his first grade debut.

Sydney University posted their third try just before the break when winger Nick Edwards regathered a loose ball from an up and under and raced away to score in the eastern corner.

University number eight Jack de Guingand, who had produced some solid defence in the first half, opened the second stanza with some attacking flair, taking the ball off the back of a scrum to drive over the line with defenders hanging off him. The bonus-point try was . . . unconverted.

With the Sydney University pack taking control of position and possession, de Guingand scored his second of the afternoon from a pushover scrum for a 28-5 scoreline.  Penrith made that more respectable when a quick lineout resulted in second-rower Tala Mapasone scoring for five-eight Gavin Duncan to convert.

The Students rounded out the scoring with five minutes on the clock when a rolling maul resulted in second-rower Tom Heslop picking up a try which was converted by  Roberts.

The win culminated a clean-sweep for Sydney University, who scored bonus points in all of the lower grade matches and the one Colts match contested by Penrith.

All eyes now turn to this Friday evening’s clash under lights at Sydney University No.1 Oval when the Students host Northern Suburbs.  The curtain-raiser for the Shute Shield clash will be a trans–Tasman showdown between Combined Australian Universities and New Zealand Universities, with kick-off scheduled for 5.50pm.


Sydney Premier Rugby competition – Round 5

First Grade: Sydney University 35 (Jack de Guingand 2, Ben Roberts, Tom Heslop, Nick Edwards, Levi Dodd tries; Angus Roberts goal, pen goal) d Penrith 17 (Viliami Napa’a 2, Tala Mapesone tries; Gavin Duncan goal) at Nepean Rugby Park.

Second Grade: Sydney University 55 (Sam Roberson 2,Paddy Ryan 2, Oli Atkins, Tom Boidin, Josh Dillon, Zumbayr Abrahams, Tom English tries; Eddie Brendenhann 5 goals) d Penrith 19 (Winney Paulo, Hamilton Va’alepu, Keori Okata tries; Tawhiri Walsh 2 goals).

Third Grade: Sydney University 26 (Callum Fryer 2, Joe Horn-Smith, Will Runciman tries; Dave Dillon 3 goals) d Penrith 5 (J. Unasia try).

Fourth Grade: Sydney University 46 (T. Vuniwa 2, Cale Holmes 2, Faiva Sailosa, Oliver Gresham, D. Mafi, James Cameron tries; Angus Sinclair 2 goals, James Cameron goal) d Penrith 12 (H. Moleasi, R. Mayol tries; R Mayol goal).


Third Grade: Sydney University 28 (4 tries) d Penrith 7.