There was plenty of action in last Saturday’s quarter final match between Sydney University and the Eastern Suburbs at Sydney University Football Ground. Four yellow cards were dispensed for some bruising physical play by both sides as University ultimately came away 21-13 victors in a tough encounter against the men from the East.
A tight first ten minutes was displayed as both teams stood up to each other. University’s defence was rock solid playing into a prodigious breeze until a lapse in discipline was shown. An Easts kick was regathered by University. The clearing kick was charged down and regathered for an unexpected try in the corner. 5-0 was showing on the scoreboard as both teams settled back down to play a constructive game, but this wish may have been too soon.
Both teams were guilty of unnecessary skirmishes. An ensuing passage of play saw University penalised. Play was stopped and referee Will Houston promptly showed University hooker Tom Horton a yellow card. He was sent to the sin bin for killing the ball at the ruck. It didn’t matter as University now had to fight in the trenches against the wind to hold back the Easts surge.
With the numerical advantage Easts were hitting University with their full arsenal but University’s defences somehow stood firm. When University had the rare opportunity to gain field position inside the Easts twenty two metre zone they took full advantage. A scrum was packed and the ball was shot to the open by half back Jake Gordon. Five eighth Stuart Dunbar stepped through the Easts first line of defence. Trailing Dunbar was Gordon who received a ball to score under the posts for a welcome converted try. University were leading 7-5 but then a period of ill-discipline once again befell the Students. A messy kick off reception later gave Easts a penalty for them to enjoy a narrow lead of 8-7 at halftime.
Without 90% of possession, having a man short, University could regroup and take advantage of the wind for the second half.
Five minutes into the second half and University struck Easts with a blow. The Students fierce rucking saw them pounding the Easts try line. Jake Gordon was driving the pack with deft balls from the back of the ruck. The power ball jackpot soon arrived when second rower Lachie Swinton drove over, under the posts for a 14-8 lead.
Attacking raids by Easts were responded with heavy defence by University. Unfortunately University’s second sin bin was received when outside centre Guy Porter was yellow carded. Porter tackled an Easts player without the ball. Easts quickly replied with a driving maul from a lineout resulting in another five points.
The argy bargy continued. Easts were attacking just inside the Students half and along the way inside centre Will McDonnell was yellow carded for a lifting tackle.
Showing disdain towards the temerity of University in the lead but with only thirteen players, Easts unleashed on Swinton. Swinton drove forward but Easts five eighth Mason was sin binned for lifting Swinton in another dangerous tackle.
Nearing the closing stages University brought on fresh replacements. Returning after serving his ten minute penance, McDonnell returned and created a gap by running hard allowing that trailing terrier Jake Gordon to score his second converted try. 21-13 but there could have been more as University’s Dr Tighthead Chris Talakai was brought on and proceeded to dismantle the Easts scrum with a series of pushovers. Easts scrum was being torn apart and was penalised for one last backpedalling scrum on fulltime. University with the penalty could have opted for another scrum to punish Easts. Instead the ball was tapped and kicked dead over the sideline for a very physical victory of 21-13.
Head coach Rob Taylor was relieved , “A wins a win. It was good practice going into the finals.” Captain Rohan O’Regan was happy his team came away with the win. “Everyone was going toe to toe and getting stuck in,” said O’Regan. Although binned during a crucial period Will McDonnell savoured the moment, “A great effort but it would have been a lot easier if it wasn’t so windy, “said the nuggety centre.
Saturday was a good day for the University club with all teams recording victories. Congratulations to all teams and success in their remaining games.