Sydney University’s 40-17 Shute Shield result over Northern Suburbs at the campus Football Ground on Saturday helped elevate them back to the top of the Club Championship.
With six wins from seven games on Saturday, Sydney University edged past Randwick on the Club Championship. The Students are on 1354 points, with the Wicks on 1306 and Eastern Suburbs on 1207 after eight rounds.
The five-try-to-three score also lifted Sydney University to joint leaders on points with Randwick on the Shute Shield ladder, although the Students are deemed second on percentages.
Randwick and Sydney University head the Shute Shield table on 31 points, with Southern Districts (30), Eastern Suburbs (28), Manly (27) and Eastwood (27) making up a tight-knit top six.
Five-eighth Ben Hughes and halfback Jake Gordon each scored doubles in Saturday’s win, with winger Matthew Narracott also posting a try and fullback Angus Roberts landing three conversions and three penalty goals.
The opening 10 minutes belonged to the visitors, who dominated possession and position with long periods of phase play before halfback Mitch Magrath found a hole in the University defence. He offloaded to second-rower Nick Palmer, who sent flanker Will Miller over under the posts. Fullback Josh Kay missed the conversion from in front.
When the Students eventually gained some decent possession, straight running from the backs produced the equaliser. Gordon attacked from a midfield ruck, with Hughes, outside-centre Jim Stewart and winger Christian Kagiassis all making inroads down the left flank. When the cover defence caught up with Kagiassis, he produced a deft left-foot grubber for Hughes to retrieve, at speed, and score. Roberts’ conversion put the Students up 7-5 and they were never headed from there.
The custodian made it 10-5 with an 18th minute penalty.
An incisive run from inside-centre Tom Carter, one of many he made in the match, put the Students in position for their second try which Gordon scored off the back of a five-metre scrum, courtesy of a smart pass from blind-side flanker Jackson McCalman. Roberts converted.
Norths hit back in the 30th minute when massive outside-centre Irae Simone took matters into his own hands with a barnstorming run, busting two tackles and stepping around the cover to score. Kay missed the conversion, but Roberts landed a penalty in the 39th minute for the Students to go to the break with a 20-10 advantage.
Norths held sway in the scrums in the first half and put together some long passages of possession, but let themselves down with bad passes at crucial times.
Carter made some useful runs for the Students, second-rower Lachlan Swinton pulled off some telling tackles, the scrum was worryingly under pressure and, but for the Hughes try, the backs drifted across field.
The big change in the second half came with a personnel change in the University scrum, which gradually gained dominance to the point of threatening for tightheads on the push in many engagements.
A big run from Stewart off the back of a lineout paved the way for Hughes to show his pace and score and stretch the lead to 25-10 early in the second half.
Second-rower Tipiloma Kaveinga assisted with the Students’ next try when he sent Kagiassis on another journey down the flank resulting in Gordon backing up to score for a 30-10 scoreboard. Roberts missed the conversion but added a penalty goal soon afterwards to take it to 33-10.
Norths hit back with the try of the match. Winger Larry Hermanns made a long break down the right flank only to be dragged down in a great cover tackle from McCalman.
Kay, winger Lachie Creagh and number eight Hugh Sinclair kept the move alive, and from the next phase five-eighth Angus Sinclair, Heyer, Hermans and Sinclair combined to send Creagh over. Kay added the extras for a 33-17 scoreline.
Narracott streaked away for the Students’ final try of the day after Roberts had split the defence and sent the winger on a 30m run to the line. Roberts duly converted.
Both sides might have posted more points as the play went from side to side and quarter to quarter. Bad passes or handling brought most moves unstuck and straight running produced most of the tries.
The Students take on Southern Districts at Forshaw Rugby Park this Saturday.
Sydney Men’s Premier Grade rugby competition – Round 8
First Grade – Shute Shield: Sydney University 40 (Ben Hughes 2, Jake Gordon 2, Matthew Narracott tries; Robert Angus 3 goals, 3 pen goals) defeated Northern Suburbs 17 at Sydney University Football Ground.
Second Grade- Colin Caird Shield: Sydney University 45 (Samuel Barclay 2, Hugh Frazer, Matthew Hood, Chris Ingate tries; Byron Hodge 4 goals, 4 pen goals) defeated Northern Suburbs 27 at Sydney University Football Ground.
Third Grade – Henderson Shield: Sydney University 60 (Joshua King 2, Dylan Vieira 2, Ban Carolan, Oliver Gresham, Stuart Mill, Richie Williams, Ben Cannon tries; Richie Williams 6 goals, pen goal) defeated Northern Suburbs 12 at Sydney University Football Ground.
Fourth Grade – Henderson Cup: Sydney University 35 (Elliott Gorman 3, Tyne Holmes, Tim Davidson tries; Tom Wilson 5 goals) defeated Northern Suburbs 0 at Sydney University Football Ground.
First Grade: Sydney University 22 (Eddy King 2, Hugh Summerhayes tries; James Kane 2 goals, pen goal) defeated Northern Suburbs 14 at Bon Andrew’s Oval.
Second Grade: Sydney University 22 (Jay Spencer, Harry Potter, Davis Jensen tries; Harry Potter 2 goals, pen goal) defeated Northern Suburbs 17 at Bon Andrew’s Oval.
Third Grade: Northern Suburbs 22 defeated Sydney University 14 (Max Indge 2 tries; Daniel Poletto 2 goals) at Bon Andrew’s Oval.