9.05 am on a Saturday morning. A time more suited to enjoy a cappuccino or in hooker Conor O’Doherty’s case tucking into a bowl of his mum Margaret’s left over Irish stew. But the new Bankwest stadium witnessed the first Sydney club grand final game with the Students facing off Eastwood.
The mighty fourths under the direction of Sydney rugby’s Odd Couple Charles Chuck Carter and his co coach James Cato Caterson master of the Dark Arts forward play saw fourths victorious 31-15.
There was a simple game plan. Spread the ball wide quickly. Halves Stefano Hunt and Will Wennerbom were masters at this tactic. During the first ten minutes University were keeping the ball alive which could not be countered by the big Eastwood fifteen. Soon tries were scored by Wennerbom and second rower Sydney Malifa through the constant recycling. 17-3 was the halftime score.
Coaches C & C retuned their squad during the break. Was it going to be the same game plan as per the 1988 square off between the David the Young Yabbies facing the Goliath the West Wyalong Anteaters? Only thirty minutes was left to make a statement.
Speed was still the key and University continued this effective tactic. The ball was sent open by the unstoppable five eighth Hunt. Hunt was turning the Eastwood backs inside out with deft footwork and his silken passing skills. When outside centre Sean Anese received a cut out Hunt ball he clapped on the pace and scored a great try. 24-10 after the Wennerbom conversion and University were still not done.
University had worked their way again inside the Eastwood quarter. A knock on was called but with an Eastwood feed. However an almighty shunt by the University pack saw them secure a tight head win . Wennerbom pilfered the ball from the backpedaling scrum and raced over the goal line. But Wennerbom executed a classic swan dive in planting the ball. This brought tears of joy to the coaches as Chuck and Cato who in their video reviews religiously watch re runs of Esther Williams’ Hollywood hit The Million Dollar Mermaid. The swan dive in this Hollywood classic would be executed with equal grace, style and finesse by Will Wennerbom.
Eastwood scored a consolation try but the damage was done and University saw out the game 31-15 victors.
Coach Carter was effusive in his praise of his team and squad. “It was a team effort with thirty five players training twice a week. The bench was used effectively today. George Lehman at Captain led the team incredibly,” said coach Carter.
Two tries and twenty one points for the game, Will Wennerbom a part of the Wennerbom dynasty at the club was absorbing the moment. “It means a lot winning it. When you lose it makes you want to get a win so much more and not let it go.”
Congratulations fourth grade 2019 Henderson Cup winners!