Competition leaders Norwest Polecats were too strong for Sydney University Lions, running out 38-14 winners in their Round 6 NSW Tertiary Cup match at Henson Park on Saturday.
While the Polecats ran in seven tries to three, the Lions were much more competitive than the scoreboard indicated and missed several tryscoring chances.
With both Elite Athlete Scholars Marcus Pappas and halfback Jake Vrahnos out for the match, the Lions made a slow to start but picked up their game and the diversity of their attack had the Polecats exhausted midway through the first half.
Lions captain Myles Fowler and fellow second-rower Terrence Rameka were damaging on the edges, breaking tackles and running untouched through holes. The left edge combination of James Vanisi and the imposing Siti Loko were also particularly dangerous, with Loko almost scoring from several cross-field kicks.
Ultimately, the game mirrored the previous week with a flurry of penalties giving the Polecats too much possession in prime field position.
Sydney University alumni Kazuki Fukushige offered another spark off the bench, darting from hooker to take advantage of the slower Polecats pack in the second half. In the end, multiple tries were denied or dropped over the line.
Despite the opportunities the boys felt confident in the final huddle, recognising in spite of the size disadvantage and injuries, they have the grit and talent to make it in this competition so long as the starts improve and the finish is crisp.
The players voted Murray Spear the Man of the Match for his leadership and toughness in the middle. Smaller than many of the opposing forwards, Spear led with his shoulder and lifted the boys off the back of some devastating contact this week.
Coach Luke Srama said the Lions standard was where he expected this early in the season, but he was disappointed for the players after the effort they put in.
Sydney University Lions travel west to Ollie Webb Reserve next Saturday to take on UTS Tigers (B) at Parramatta, with a 1:15pm kick-off.
NSW Tertiary Cup competition – Round 6
Sydney University 14 (Tries: Tevita Loko, Siti Loko, Terrence Rameka. Goals: Thomas McCarthy) defeated by Norwest Polecats (A) 38.