Images: AJF Photography
Sydney University solidified their place on top of the Shute Shield ladder with a convincing 62-21 victory over Southern Districts at Forshaw Park, with two rounds of the Shute Shield Competition remaining.
Nine minutes elapsed before University commenced their points for the day. The lead up was a hybrid example of ad lib combined with structured discipline. Winger James Kane showing received a ball at pace and chipped the ball to chase and regather. Driving deep into the Souths twenty two metre zone University then commenced to execute their rucking prowess with picking and driving until second rower Dave McDuling drove over the tryline for a Kane converted try.
It was the young brigade that were displaying to the Shire crowd that they came to play. Bustling outside centre Guy Porter later showed he was equally adept at the chip and chase down the eastern touchline. Regathering Porter raced downfield to perfectly position his comrade in arms fullback Tim Clements to score another converted try. University were moving through their gears but Souths repelled with a try soon after by their number eight Carbone for a 14-7 score.
University kept one in the bag with the next seven points. The ball was passed through the Rebels hands until University’s five eighth Stuart Dunbar raced up from the line to attempt an intercept. The ball appeared to be knocked down by Dunbar and a feeling of despair murmured through the University supporters anticipating the referee Mr Houston was going to reach for a yellow card. But play was allowed to continue. Dunbar applying the philosophy of “to hell with circumstances I create opportunities” – Bruce Lee regathered and ran untouched downfield to plant the ball under the posts. 21-7 was the scoreline a nice little lead but not out of the danger zone by any means.
The next try was a moment that had the whole crowd virtually gobsmacked! In his fiftieth appearance for the club big Mudgee prop Matt Sandell scored an amazing try. University were attacking forty metres out from the Souths line. Sandell received the ball off a ruck and drove downfield. Busting through the first line of defence Sandell was momentarily out in the open. Sandell ran hard in his brief moment of freedom. But there were no defenders facing him. It was as if big Matt was a Game of Thrones White Walker who had scared off defenders. The legs were pumping, even a step was applied and before you knew it Sandell scored a try drawing rapturous applause from the northern bleachers and silence from the corresponding southern stands.
Another Kane penalty rounded off the first half for a handy 31-7 lead. The Rebels were wounded but still capable of mounting a comeback. The Souths fightback was mounted after the ten minute halftime break. Two quick tries were scored through a penalty try after University scrum breaches and a lapse in concentration down the scoreboard touchline following a messy lineout. 31-21 was now the score. If Southern Districts scored another converted try it was truly game on with at least thirty minutes left in the game.
University required that breathing space buffer and this soon arrived with another youth inspired try. Porter inside the Souths half executes his version of a contortionist ducking and weaving and unable to be tackled. Porter offloads to again the supporting Tim Clements who scores his second try. University could now apply the foot on the accelerator to extinguish any Souths comeback.
A further pick and drive try was scored. A box kick from replacement halfback Banjo Travers was regathered by Porter for another try. Soon after the aspiring method actor Kane showed why he is a favourite to win the 2018 Zbyszek Cybulski award for the most promising actor under 35 in Polish cinema with his final virtuoso performance.
Regathering a clearing kick deep inside his half Kane decided to run the ball. But his hallmark chip and chase was once again applied whereupon he continued to race downfield untouched for a length of the field try. 55-21 with a minute left. Play out the game and kill the ball dead or, one for the road?
The latter took precedence and there was forty seconds left in the game when the ball was shunted to the open. Super sub Ben Carolan ran onto the ball but offloaded and put Guy Porter once again into a gap. Porter decided to apply the pace and sprinted down the middle. Defenders were grasping in an effort to stop him. But undoubtedly the big centre motored under the posts as the full time hooter sounded for the final score of 62-21.
An emphatic victory or a reminder that University are peaking at the right time of the season?
Both coaches Rob Taylor and Joe Horn-Smith were smiling respectively. “Very ,very happy- mission accomplished” spruiked coach Taylor. Joe Horn-Smith grinning like a Cheshire cat was in praise of his charges, “We kept to our task. We put pressure on them and fixed our scrum later.”
Next week University continue their roadshow at Coogee Oval against our traditional rivals Randwick.