In tough conditions, Sydney University in a seesawing battle recorded their second loss of the season to Eastwood. University could not peg back Eastwood in the second half which saw them narrowly go down 32-29.
The first five minutes it was all Eastwood as they controlled possession starving University of building any continuity. With the weight of possession, Eastwood shifted the ball to their blindside allowing their big winger to crash over in the corner. Despite an unsuccessful conversion a penalty soon after saw the Woods leading 8-0.
University finally had a stroke of luck and received a penalty deep inside the Eastwood half. Later a series of five metre scrums had the desired effect back pedalling and exhausting the Eastwood pack. Following the umpteenth rolling scrum a pass down the blind by University halfback Theo Strang saw five eighth Daniel Poletto score in the corner. 8-5 narrowly favoured the home team in the windy conditions.
University were still making uncharacteristic errors and soon after the kickoff turned over possession. Eastwood once again mounted pressure inside the University quarter. Again their bulldozing right winger scored in the corner for a 13-5 lead.
The game was an arm wrestle. Just when University engineered some productive play Eastwood somehow stalled it or dispossessed the Students . However on the eve of halftime University started to show their prowess in rucking. Picking and driving was applied inside the five metre zone. Wave after wave of University jerseys surged towards the Eastwood goaline. Another drive later saw Strang pass from the ruck a short ball to that hard running ginger protein ball Will McDonnell who crashed over to score near the posts. 13-12 was the half time score on this cold and blustery winter afternoon.
Facing the wind was a daunting prospect for the second half and coaches Rob Taylor and Joe Horn-Smith had to brief the team in some precise instructions for the second half. The score line was fluctuating and it was noticed the wooden scoreboard was today not manned. Who could blame the attendant to be at the nearby warm Macquarie shopping centre. Tucking into a Devonshire tea inside a warm café was more tempting than being exposed to the elements re-enacting Scott’s expedition to the Antarctic!
University actually started the half well pressing the Eastwood line. But just when an attacking raid looked promising the Eastwood fullback intercepted a wide ball to score a length of the field try. Heartbreaking to say the least but a call to arms for University.
This rally came from the kickoff as a loose ball was played to the whistle. University continued to attack down the blindside corridor where passes were thrown between Strang, winger Kane and Mc Donnell who gave the final pass to Strang for a dart down the club house side for an excellent try. 18-17 was the score and once again University were so near.
Eastwood are a side that thrives on momentum and a bouncing speculator kick could not be secured by University seeing the Woods score another try to lead 25-17. University continued pressing and winger Henry Clunies – Ross replied through a lucky ricochet off an Eastwood leg. The undulating scoreline showed a narrow 25-22 lead for the home team. It was a titanic battle between the two combatants.
When the Eastwood five eighth sold an almighty dummy to slice through the backline untouched to score, it appeared University had met their match this day.
But throwing in the towel has never been a part of University’s makeup. This was reinforced when second rower Dave McDuling burrowed his way to score the final try for the day. A quick conversion by Kane with a minute to go was not enough at the end of the days play. 32-29 and Eastwood had narrowly beaten their arch nemesis.
Finally, a reinforcement that the game should be played and conducted in the right spirit. Verbal abuse towards University volunteers on this Saturday was disappointing. We hope all members of the University fraternity will continue adhering to the principles of good sportsmanship.
An upcoming mid-season long weekend break is ahead. University will later make the trek to the northern peninsula to battle the 2017 premiers those swarming Green Rats of Warringah.
Trys: D. Mcduling (1), T. Strang (1), D. Poletto (1), W. Mcdonnell (1), H. Clunies Ross (1)
Conversions: J. Kane (2)