Sydney University recorded their biggest win of the season with a 76-18 thumping of Penrith in their Round 11 Shute Shield game at University No.1 Oval on Saturday.
The win lifted the Students to seventh on the competition ladder – on 26 points – behind Southern Districts (50), Eastwood (44), Manly (43), Eastern Suburbs (32), Randwick (31) and West Harbour (27).
With a full contingent on Super 14 and Australian Sevens players back in the ranks, the Students are now in a good position to make a charge for the semi-finals and defend the Shute Shield for a sixth consecutive title.
Penrith took an early 3-nil lead from a Tawhiri Walsh penalty goal on Saturday after the Students were penalised for offside play. However, it was short-lived as the University hit their rhythm to score 11 tries against a gallant but outgunned Emus.
Combinations were starting to take shape as the University scored through backline movements, pick and drives and their patented rolling maul.
The dashing doctor, winger Nathan Trist scored four tries through good finishing of backline incursions. With flanker Pat McCutcheon’s intercept at halftime and the accurate boot of five-eighth Julian Huxley, the scoreboard was looking ominous for Penrith at 36-3 at half-time.
The second half saw Sydney University run towards their favourite grandstand corner where their die-hard supporters barrack in between consuming beverages and canapés.
To commemorate the anniversary of Michael Jackson’s death, Peter Betham moon walked’ his way through the Penrith defence to score a 50-metre try. And 10 minutes later he made another break to set up an inside ball for captain and inside-centre Tom Carter to score under the posts.
Western Force flanker Ben McCalman, now sporting clean-cut Justin Bieber looks, crawled over the line following sustained University onslaught. But the try of the day came when Carter made a break along the western touchline and passed to his supporting wingman Michael Hodge. A la Goose and Maverick’ in Top Gun, Hodge continued down the touchline, drew the defence and unselfishly passed back inside for Carter to score. New goalkicker Dan Kelly converted and with 20 minutes left the score was 62-3.
Scrappy play in the University quarter saw Penrith’s tighthead prop Toa Asa exploit the blindside and score near the hill corner. The conversion was missed but the visitors grabbed another five-pointer courtesy of Sikuti Vunipola. And with a minute on the clock five-eighth David Alo crashed over for a third.
Not to be outdone, the Students also added two tries in the closing minutes, the last from Young’s famous son Tim Davidson from a five-metre scrum.
In lower grades University enjoyed maximum bonus points with Seconds winning 62-7 and Thirds 43-0, while Penrith forfeited Fourth Grade.
It was a successful day for the club. However, with hard games against Randwick next week and a blockbuster against Southern Districts shortly after, University must continue raising their standards. The easy tries scored by Penrith in the latter stages of the main game would not have gone unnoticed by the coaching firm Mumm and Cadwallader.
First Grade: Sydney University 76 (Nathan Trist 4, Peter Betham 2, Dave Dennis, Ben McCalman, Pat McCutcheon, Tim Davidson, Tom Carter tries; Julian Huxley 6, Dan Kelly 2, Nathan Trist goals; Julian Huxley pen goal) d Penrith 18 (Toa Asa, Sikuti Vunipola, David Alo tries; Tawhiri Walsh pen goal) at Sydney University No.1 Oval.
Second Grade: Sydney University 62 (Sam Hosking 2, Julian James 2, Jono Jenkins, Dan Kelly, Lachlan Rosengreen, Josh Dillon, Alastair King, Alfi Mafi tries; Justin Bosilkovski 6 goals) d Penrith 7 (Simm Tooala try; Matt Borg goal).
Third Grade: Sydney University 43 (Toby L’Estrange 2, Oliver Gresham, Robbie Gordon, Callum Fryer, J. Swan, Ally Maclay tries; Toby L’Estrange 4 goals) d Penrith 0.
First Grade: Sydney University 25 d Merrylands 5.