Flanker Phil Waugh made a welcome return to club ranks on Saturday when he scored two tries in Sydney University’s 57-20 disposal of Northern Suburbs at North Sydney Oval.
Five-eighth Bernard Foley also took the chance to display his wares in the ABC TV match of the day with a pair of tries, while fullback Berrick Barnes posted 27 points with a try, five goals and four penalty goals.
Barnes and second-rower Dan Vickerman, who were on the comeback trail from injury while remaining in the 40-man Wallaby train-on squad for the World Cup, each played the full 80 minutes.
It was the unerring boot of Barnes that kept the Students in the game in the first half in which the hosts scored two tries to one but trailed 17-15 at the break.
However, the second half was dominated by the Students, whose star-studded forward pack was boosted by Dean Mumm and Dave Dennis.
The Students lifted their work at the breakdown to provide excellent ball for a productive backline. Young centres Michael Hodge and Tom Kingston joined the try-scoring list, while Barnes kept slotting goals to keep the scoreboard ticking over.
With the postponed games from Sydney’s Big Wet having been played mid-week, the Students now lie third on the competition ladder, which is headed by Eastwood on 76 points. Manly (61), Sydney University (59), Eastern Suburbs (54), Randwick (53) and Northern Suburbs (52) make up the top six, with a 10-point break to seventh-placed Southern Districts.
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. The Students have since accounted for Eastern Suburbs 23-19, West Harbour 37-15, Penrith 62-7 and Norths at the weekend. Their run home includes Southern Districts and Gordon, both at University No.1 Oval, Randwick at Coogee Oval, Manly at University No.1 Oval and Warringah at Pittwater Rugby Park.
The Students made in a clean-sweep on Saturday, with wins in the three lower grades and the Colts fixtures, while the Sydney University women’s team – the defending premiers – accounted for Waverley.
Sydney Grade competition – Round 17
First Grade: Sydney University 57 (Phil Waugh 2, Bernard Foley 2, Michael Hodge, Tom Kingston, Berrick Barnes tries; Berrick Barnes 5 goals, 4 pen goals) d Northern Suburbs 20 (Cam Crawford 2, Mat Lamont tries; Zack Holmes goal, pen goal) at North Sydney Oval.
Second Grade: Sydney University 48 (Josh Dillon 3, Jeremy Aitkin, Zumbayr Abrahams, Eddie Bredenhann, Jerry Yanuyanutawa tries; Eddie Bredenhann 5 goals, pen goal) d Northern Suburbs 21 (Will Hunting, Paulie Tuala, Blake Murray tries; Scott Barnes 3 goals).
Third Grade: Sydney University 29 (Josh Koops 2, Callum Fryer, Hugo Dessens tries; Jack Macklin 3 goals, pen goal) d Northern Suburbs 3 (Zack Johnson pen goal).
Fourth Grade: Sydney University 17 (Oliver L’Estrange 2, Tim Vumilua tries; Brock Baillie goal) d Northern Suburbs 12 (Brad Collins, Ryan Dowling tries; Tom Lee goal).
First Grade: Sydney University 62 (9 tries) d Northern Suburbs 0.
Second Grade: Sydney University 24 (4 tries) d Northern Suburbs 5.
Third Grade: Sydney University on forfeit.
Sydney Women’s competition – Round 18
First Grade: Sydney University 87 d Waverley 0 at Waverley Oval.