Sydney University’s defence of the Sydney premier rugby Shute Shield is taking on a similar pattern to 2010 when they strung together 13 consecutive wins to collect a sixth successive premiership.
The Students moved into second position on the competition ladder with a 62-7 win over Penrith at University No.1 Oval on Saturday. The ladder is headed by unbeaten Eastwood on 70 points, with Sydney University (54), Manly (52), Northern Suburbs (52), Eastern Suburbs (49) and Randwick (43) making up the top six.
The Students’ position is exaggerated, however, as Eastwood, Manly, Easts and Randwick each have a game up their sleeves after their matches were cancelled on Saturday after a week of heavy rains.
But the pattern of 2010 should not be discounted. The Students fell as low as seventh on the ladder last year before making the long march to the finals with 10 wins on the trot to finish fourth on the ladder, followed by sudden-death wins over Manly and minor premiers Eastwood before accounting for Randwick 46-6 in the grand final.
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 unbeaten competition leaders.
With Super 15 players returning to the ranks, the Students have since accounted for Eastern Suburbs 23-19, West Harbour 37-15 and Penrith at the weekend. Their run home includes Northern Suburbs (the ABC TV Match of the Day at North Sydney Oval on Saturday), 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 fielded an embarrassment of riches on Saturday with 11 Super 15 players in the squad, including Phil Waugh on the bench.
On a water-logged No.1 Oval that might have been closed after being hit with 277mm (11 inches) in the five days before the game, Berrick Barnes made a welcome return to the field and bagged 17 points from a try and six conversions.
The Students led 36-7 at the break, with a bonus points to boot, and went on with the job in the second half, with outside-centre Tom Kingston grabbing a pair of tries.
Five players scored doubles in Second Grade’s 88-0 win over Penrith – flanker Tom Boidon, number eight Jack De Guingand, halfback Eddie Bredenhann, winger Zumbayr Abrahams and fullback Josh Dillon, while Bredenhann also slotted seven conversions.
With the other grades called off, Sydney University maintained their top position in the Club Championship and the Colts Club Championship.
Sydney Grade competition – Round 16
First Grade: Sydney University 62 (Pen try, Tim Davidson 2. Tom Kingston, Nathan Charles, Sam Carter, Dave Dennis, Greg Jeloudev, Michael Hodge, Berrick Barnes tries; Berrick Barnes 6 goals) d Penrith 7 (Kornelio Burgess try; Atelea Okati goal) at Sydney University No.1 Oval.
Second Grade: Sydney University 88 (Tom Boidon 2, Jack De Guingand 2 Eddie Bredenhann 2, Zumbayr Abrahams 2, Josh Dillon 2, Sam Roberson, Oliver Atkins, Josh Elice-Flint, Nick Edwards tries; Eddie Bredenhann 7 goals, Jacob Taylor 2 goals) d Penrith 0.