Students open Shute Shield on a high

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Sydney University First XV opened the 2024 Shute Shield Sydney Premier Rugby season with an encouraging 35-29 win over Northern Suburbs at a very wet University Football Ground on Saturday.

The Students ran in five tries to four, with lock Luke Ratcliff, left flanker Angus Allen, right flanker Isireli Naisrani, outside centre Sione Taufu and winger Jack Matthews scoring for the winners, with Mathews adding five conversions.  Northern Suburbs’ tries came from hooker James Morgan (2), number eight Gary Bautz and outside centre Nathan Russell, with five-eighth Jude Gibbs landing three conversions and a penalty goal.

The nine-try match defied the very slippery conditions – the result of torrential rain the previous night – which resulted in the Third and Fourth grade matches and three Colts matches being called off. The Fourth Grade and Third Grade Colts matches were abandoned for the season, while the Third Grade and First and Second Grade Colts matches have been rescheduled for Anzac Day. The women’s match between Sydney University and Manly, scheduled for University Oval, was also called off.

However, the Second Grade Colin Caird Shield fixture went ahead at St Paul’s College Oval, with the hosts and Northern Suburbs fighting out a 36-all draw. Sydney University’s tries came from inside centre William Goddard (2) and outside centre Liam Grover (2), prop Michael Baldcock and hooker Samuel Cantwell, with Goddard landing three conversions. Northern Suburbs tries came from flanker Edward Timpson, number eight Jack Manning, halfback Jack Radford, winger Luke Ryan, reserve back Justin Talemaira and reserve halfback Doug Philipson. Five-eight Josh Robertson-Weepu landed two conversions and Luke Ryan landed one.

Sydney University will host Manly at Sydney University Football Ground in Round 2 fixtures next Saturday, while their Round 3 mission will be a trip to Coogee Oval to meet Randwick the following weekend. They’ll be tough assignments – Manly accounted for Eastwood 32-17 in their season opener while Randwick defeated the Wildfires 64-17 at the weekend.