Sydney University Lions came within a whisker of causing an upset when they went down 26-24 to Norwest Polecats in their Round 8 NSW Tertiary Cup clash at Kellyville Park on Saturday.
In a classic tale of two halves, the Lions finished with a wet sail after trailing 14-nil at the break.
As coach Luke Srama said: “We should have been down by 30 at halftime given the amount of ball they had.
“We were own worst enemy with too many dropped balls and piggy-back penalties. But the boys showed they can match it with the top competition, so long as they don’t bite their own tails. This week was another step in the right direction.”
The Lions shaped up with some tough defence across the park, led by captain Myles Fowler and the line speed of Murray Spear.
Despite being down 14-0, the Lions scrambled and the number of players in tackles in the middle of the field was sign of a hardening team who are beginning to work and push each other.
The second half was a different game entirely, led by Chadwick Scholar Jake Vrahnos’ direction in attack and a defensive line that was hungry for the kill.
Vrahnos and Spear orchestrated a blitzkrieg down the centre and left edge that allowed Elite Athlete Scholar, Marcus Pappas, to bust through tackles, creating multiple line-breaks with tries from a supporting cast of Daniel Rowe and Thomas McCarthy interchanging at fullback.
The Lions brought the game to within two points with minutes on the clock after a flurry of attack that had them tearing through the Polecats with great support play and short passing.
The Polecats had their heads down as they walked off the field, a target on their back and a hesitant look over their shoulders as the young cubs increasingly look like Lions as they get further into the jungle of this season.
The players voted Sydney University Applied Science student, Marcus Pappas as the Man of the Match this week.
The quiet giant has been humble in his approach off the field this season, but continues to show he is a handful for teams on the left edge with a workload that grows each week.
Coach Srama hopes to see a full game out of the boys soon, but is still was very positive about the level of play shown when they stick to the game plan and have greater discipline.
Sydney University Lions will host the Cumberland Beavers at historic Henson Park, Marrickville, this Saturday, with a 1pm kick-off scheduled.
NSW Tertiary Cup competition – Round 8
First Division: Norwest Polecats 26 defeated Sydney University 24 (Kurt Lewis, Adam Vrahnos, Daniel Rowe, Thomas McCarthy tries; Thomas McCarthy 4 goals) at Kellyville Park on Saturday.