Sydney University moved to within three points of the Shute Shield competition lead with a gutsy 20-15 win over a committed Warringah at Pittwater Rugby Park on Saturday.

The no holds barred Round 13 encounter was a great advertisement for club rugby, with the hosts throwing everything at the reigning premiers, who held on for the final 10 minutes after skipper Tim Davidson had put them in the lead with a try off the back of a dominant five-metre scrum.

While the win nudged the gallant Rats back to 10th on the ladder, it elevated Sydney University to second – on 50 points – behind competition leaders Eastwood on 53 points. Southern Districts (47), West Harbour (45), Manly (42) and Eastern Suburbs (35) make up the top six.

 And with yet another Saturday clean-sweep, the Students edged ahead on the Club Championship ladder with 2357 points, ahead of Eastwood on 2118.

The Students opened positively on Saturday, stringing together a number of phases before halfback Jock Merriman exploited a gap off a ruck to score next to the posts. He converted the try for an early seven-nil lead.

But the Rats replied in similar fashion, controlling possession and position before halfback Josh Holmes engineered the leveller. Darting diagonally off a 10-metres scrum he linked with fullback Dave Feltscheer, who veered back infield before sending Holmes over next to the posts. Five-eighth Dave Harvey’s conversion levelled the scores.

The hosts continued to play an enterprising brand of football and their rampant pack allowed the same combination to strike again, with Holmes darting down the blindside of a ruck and linking with Feltscheer, who scored in the corner for a 12-7 lead at the break.

Sydney University lifted the momentum in the second half and improved their handling to carve some deep incisions in the Rats defence. While the hosts held their line intact with some scrambling defence, University replacement second-rower Byron Hodge edged his side ahead 13-12 with a pair of penalty goals.

Harvey hit back with one of his own and the Rats clung to a 15-13 lead until the 70th minute when the University scrum dominated an engagement five metres from the Warringah line and Davidson peeled off the back with a low, driving surge to score. Hodge landed the extras for a 20-15 lead and 10 minutes of survival.

As University coach Chris Malone has often said, opposition teams lift when they play the premiers, and that was the case on Saturday. The result was a tight contest between two committed outfits.

The Students will have a full contingent of Super 15 players available this Saturday when they take on Penrith in Round 14 at University No.1 Oval.

They then meet Northern Suburbs in Round 15 at North Sydney Oval, and host Southern Districts (Round 16) and Gordon (Round 17) before rounding out the season proper with a match against Randwick at Coogee Oval.



Sydney Men’s Grade competition – Round 13

First Grade: Sydney University 20 (Tim Davidson, Jock Merriman tries; Jock Merriman goal, Byron Hodge goal, 2 pen goals) d Warringah 15 (Joshua Holmes, David Feltscheer tries; David Harvey goal, pen goal) at Pittwater Rugby Park.

Second Grade: Sydney University 43 (Alistair Ryan, Willie DuPlessis, Ben Murray, Dane McCarthy, Fetuli Talanoa, Levy Dodd tries; Byron Hodge 5 goals, pen goal) d Warringah 0.

Third Grade: Sydney University 50 (Sam English 4, Jake Gordon 2, Hugh Frazer, James Swan tries; David Fong 3 goals, Cameron Mason 2 goals) d Warringah 0.

Fourth Grade: Sydney University 45 (Ben Lenehan 2, Harry Marples, Michael Widdup, Kurt Larsen, Tim Isidro, James Swan tries; Conor Foley 5 goals) d Warringah 7 (Dan Copping try; Phil Cook goal).


irst Grade: Sydney University 73 d Warringah 24 at St Paul’s College Oval.

Second Grade: Sydney University 99 d Warringah 0.

Third Grade: Sydney University 57 d Warringah 10.