Sydney University’s record-equalling run of six consecutive Sydney grade rugby premierships came to an end at Concord Oval on Saturday when Eastwood won the 2011 Shute Shield decider 19-16.

Played in intermittent drizzling rain on a slippery surface, the tight-marking, closely fought affair was limited to a try apiece, with Eastwood leading 13-9 at the break.

Sydney University had hopes of a record seventh consecutive title when held a 16-13 lead mid-way through the second half, but Eastwood levelled at 16-all just before full-time and the game went into  a 20-minute play-off (10 minutes each way with no break).

The combatants slugged it out for 15 minutes of extra time before Woodies five-eighth Pierre Hola landed a penalty goal to seal the Shute Shield.

Hola landed four penalty goals and converted winger John Grant’s first-half try in a dominant performance on the back of a pack that held sway at the scrum.

But perhaps his biggest influence on the match, albeit accidentally, came on his first strong break in the fifth minute. In making a head-on tackle, his opposite, Daniel Halangahu was knocked out. Although he soldiered on bravely he wasn’t to have the man-of-the-match effect he’s had on three of the past four grand finals.

Halangahu had landed an early penalty goal, but handed over the kicking duties to fullback Bernard Foley, who slotted two penalty goals and converted halfback Matt Schwager’s second-half try to post three from four attempts.

In a close marking contest where neither side was willing to bring outside backs and fullbacks into play, the match was reduced to multi-phase pick’n’drive tactics from the forwards and kick and hope tactics when the ball was released. The closeness of the scoreline kept the 7200 spectators in the stands.

Earlier in the day, Sydney University Third Grade won the J.R. Henderson Shield for 2011 with a 21-17 win over Eastern Suburbs. Josh Koops and Nick Edwards tries for the winners, while Jack Macklin converted one and landed three penalty goals.

And at Forshaw Rugby Park on Sunday, Sydney University won the three Colts titles. Tom English scored two tries in First Grade Colts’ 35-12 win over Eastwood; Second Grade Colts accounted for Eastwood 22-7 and Third Grade Colts defeated Manly 24-12.


Sydney Grade competition – Grand Finals

First Grade (Shute Shield): Eastwood 19 (John Grant try; Pierre Hola 4 pen goal, goal) d Sydney University 16 (Matt Schwager try; Bernard Foley 2 pen goals, goal, Daniel Halangahu pen goal) at Concord Oval. Referee: Ian Smith. Crowd: 7372.

Third Grade (J.R. Henderson Shield): Sydney University 21 (Josh Koops, Hick Edwards tries; Jack Macklin 3 pen goals, goal) d Eastern Suburbs 17 (Nick Healey 2 tries; Sam Devlin pen goal, 2 goals). Referee: Willie Houston.


First Grade (W. McMahon Memorial Trophy): Sydney University 35 (Tom English 2, Hugh Frazer, Timothy Reid tries; Byron Hodge, 2 pen goals, 3 goals, Stuart Dunbar field goal) d Eastwood 12 (Bryce Steel, Blake Sutton tries; Westley Sefuiva goal) at Forshaw Rugby Park. Referee: Jamie McGregor.

Second Grade (Shell Trophy): Sydney University 22 (James Dargaville, Duncan Boyd-Jones, Jack Wallace tries; Duncan Boyd-Jones pen goal, 2 goals) d Eastwood 7 (Tyrone Tadros try; James Martin goal). Referee: Luke Colbron.

Third Grade: Sydney University 24 (Jake Gordon, Nicholas Burden, Jack Sullivan tries; Tianua Poto 3 pen goals) d Manly 12 (Stephen Chapman, Jack Meakins tries; Reece Hodge con). Referee: Mark Compton.