Sydney University Football Club’s Second Grade side reclaimed the Colin Caird Shield with a 38-24 win over Manly in their grand final clash at Leichhardt Oval on Saturday.
The Students led 28-7 at the break on the back of four converted tries and withheld a Manly comeback in the second stanza to run out comfortable five tries to four winners.
The match was only 90 seconds old when when winger Sepesa Loga-Taroga scored next to the posts on the back of a Manly turnover. University number eight Max von Appen snapped up the loose ball and cut a swathe through the Manly defence before offloading to outside-centre Hamish Mac Smith who sent Loga-Tarogi on his way. Fullback Sam Bignold landed the first of his four conversions.
Manly levelled the score with a try from flanker Bill Delany which was converted by five-eighth Lewis Dennett before the Students took control of the first half.
Tries to second-rower Angus Allen, flanker Aidan Wearne and skipper Jacob Ratcliff were converted by Bignold to give the Students a comfortable lead at the break. Thereafter a try to Mac Smith pushed the score out to 33-7 before Manly hit back.
Tries from winger Addison Hawke, fullback Robbie McIntosh and reserve hooker Harry Fry closed gap to 33-24 before the Students sealed the match with a try from replacement winger Charlie Murray.
The biggest smiles were on the faces of Loga-Tarogi, Bignold, Wearne, Ratcliff, Allen, Samuel Cantwell and Michael Baldock who were backing up from the 25-21 grand final loss to Eastern Suburbs in 2022.
Sydney University where coached by Ryan Burge, with assistant coaches being Ben Rutherford and Matt Rolfe. The Seconds finished third on the Colin Caird regular season ladder behind Randwick and Manly, with Eastern Suburbs, Gordon and Eastwood making up the top six.
The Students accounted for Eastern Suburbs 41-24 in their play-off before defeating Gordon 31-7 in their semi-final to earn a berth in the season decider.
Manly lost their playoff 42-28 to Gordon, then defeated Randwick 41-38 to make the grand final.
Meanwhile, it was heartbreak for the Sydney Uni 1st Colts, who on the cusp of full-time lead opponents Warringah 31-28, but the defenses couldn’t hold out in the final seconds as the Minor Premiers scored a converted try to steal the win from the students. Fulltime 31-35.