Sydney University wrapped up a record eighth successive Sydney grade rugby Club Championship with a 32-14 win over Manly at University Oval on Saturday.
In the process the Students leap-frogged Manly to claim second spot on the Shute Shield ladder, and should they win the final competition round – against Warringah at Pittwater Rugby Park on Saturday – they will be within two games of a record seventh title (a Tooheys Cup and six Shute Shields.)
While the Students have now won eight games on the trot, they were no chance of catching minor premiers Eastwood, who have dropped just one match during the competition proper.
The Woodies head the 2011 ladder on 96 points, with Sydney University (79), Manly (76), Eastern Suburbs (69), Randwick (63) and Northern Suburbs (62) making up the top six.
Since going down 25-19 to Manly in Round 12 this season, the Students knocked over Warringah 50-12 and Parramatta 65-7 before being defeated 22-7 by Eastwood. Since then the Students have accounted for Eastern Suburbs 23-19, West Harbour 37-15, Penrith 62-7, Norths 57-20, Southern Districts 52-20, Gordon 81-12, Randwick 65-17 and Manly at the weekend
Winger Nathan Trist crossed for two of Sydney University’s four tries on Saturday, with five-eighth Daniel Halangahu and fullback Bernard Foley also bagging five-pointers. Halangahu also landed three conversions and two penalty goals.
The Students are running second in Second Grade, first in Third Grade and second in Fourth Grade, while First and Second grade Colts head their competitions, with Third Grade Colts dropping to fourth after their loss at the weekend.
First Grade Colts are chasing a fifth successive title. Sydney University have won eight of the past nine First Grade Colts titles with a run of four from 2002, a loss to Eastwood in the 2006 decider and another run of four since 2007.
Second Grade Colts are chasing six premierships on the trot. The Seconds have won eight titles since 2001. And thirds are hoping to avenge their 2010 grand final loss.
With the First and Second grades leading their competitions and Thirds dropping to fourth with successive losses, Sydney University had the Eric Spilstead Shield for the Colts Club Championships wrapped up several weeks ago. The Shield now has Sydney University’s name etched on it for 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011.
Meanwhile, Sydney University made it back-to-back titles when they accounted for Merrylands 35-nil in the Sydney Women’s Rugby grand final played at Pittwater Rugby Park on Saturday.
The Students held a commanding 28-nil lead at half-time and posted a fourth try after the break to wrap up their second title. (They defeated Warringah 23-10 to claim the 2010 title.)
Captain Faz Hayati led from the front to open Sydney University’s account with a solid winger’s try on the back of a six-phase build-up followed by quick ball movement across the backline.
Inside-centre Sarah Jean broke a number of tackles to post the second, while outside-centre Ash Hewson used her speed and step to cross for University’s third try.
Sydney University coach Pat Cunningham was particularly pleased with the Students’ fourth try, which came off a set move on the Merrylands quarter line and resulted in fullback Kelly Ducker hitting the line at pace and angle to score next to the uprights.
Hewson also kept the scoreboard ticking with three conversions and three long-range penalty goals, including 35-metre effort from the left touchline.
With the Merrylands team featuring a number of players from the Samoan and Tongan communities, both teams lined up before the game for a prayer of remembrance for the victims and families of the Queensland house fire that claimed five lives last Wednesday.
Teams: Sydney University: Michelle O’Brien, Sheilla Sapulettey, Haruka Takahashi, Michelle Bailey, Danni Cormican, Alex Hargreaves, Sheridan Gho, Iliseva Batibasaga, Rachelle Pirie, Faryaneh Hayati, Sarah Jean. Ash Hewson, Gwendy DeDecker, Kelly Ducker, Mariah Litaki, Jasmin Diab, Elisha Single, Marj Spooner-O’Neill, Beatriz Futura, Marie Yamaguchi, Lauren James, Stephanie Cuvellier. Coaches: Pat Cunningham, Louise Ferris.
Merrylands: Tina Kelemete, Victoria Meki, Ruth Nua, Adi Tupou Lagi Cabealawa, Farlane Winera, Rhiannon Raki, Simaima Taufa, Victoria Latu, Jasmine Huriwai, Alexandra Sulusi, Ashleigh Geesing, Hanna Sio, April Tuigamala, Meliame Lasalo, Bernadette Wolfgram, Rosetta Ngata, Annie Sakava, Susan Fuiamono, Rofina Lasalo. Coach: Mo Polota-Nau.
Sydney Women’s competition – Grand final
Sydney University 35 (Faz Hayati, Sarah Jean, Ash Hewson, Kelly Ducker tries; Ash Hewson 3 goals, 3 pen goals) d Merrylands 0 at Pittwater Rugby Park.
Sydney Men’s grade competition – Round 21
First Grade: Sydney University 32 (Nathan Trist 2,Daniel Halangahu, Bernard Foley tries; Daniel Halangahu 3 goals, 2 pen goals) d Manly 14 (Richard Hooper try; Ben Seymour 3 pen goals) at Sydney University No.1 Oval.
Second Grade: Sydney University 43 (Tom English 2, Sam Talakai, Josh Ellice-Flint, Jack De Guingand, Michael Gellenenti; Angus Roberts 5 goals, pen goal) d Manly 10 (Luke Hanson try; Marshall Milroy goal, pen goal).
Third Grade: Sydney University 28 (Hugo Dessens, Jack Macklin, Josh Koops, Alex O’Donnell tries; Jack Macklin 4 goals) d Manly 0.
Fourth Grade: Sydney University 19 (Harry Marples 2, Fava Sailosi tries; Cam Lawrence 2 goals) d Manly 10 (Brendan Organ try; Shem Grieve goal, pen goal).
First Grade: Sydney University 28 d Manly 25.
Second Grade: Sydney University 41 (6 tries) d Manly 5.
Third Grade: Manly 22 d Sydney University 9.