A cold but sunny autumn afternoon were the conditions for Sydney University enjoying a hard fought victory at North Sydney Oval last Saturday. The venue for their 2018 Shute Shield triumph saw them defeat Northern Suburbs 29-24 to regain the John Thornett Cup.
University started the day positively when outside centre the nimble James Armstrong anticipated the ball along the North’s backline and pilfered an intercept inside his half. With his head focused towards the northern Moreton Bay fig tree, Armstrong’s legs were pumping as he was hotly pursued by the North’s covering defender the speedster winger Porch. Before you could even say Sco Mo, Armstrong touched down under the goalposts for a James Kane converted try.
The Students were taking advantage of a stiff southerly breeze and were persevering in pinning North’s inside their quarter. University’s set piece and defence were solid and North’s were finding it difficult to gain good field position. A five metre University lineout was a return to yesteryear as the Students eight started to roll their maul towards the red and black goal line. The human wave saw a try by University tight head prop the big chap Wayne Borsak. Norths five eighth Sinclair managed to kick a penalty goal but the buffer was showing 14-3 favouring the Students.
University had a swagger about them and were moving the ball with plenty of panache. A wayward Sinclair kick was regathered by fullback James Kane. This proved fatal for Norths as Kane returned serve with a chip and chase. Kane followed through and a wicked bounce above Porchs’ head was gleefully regathered by Kane who scooted over for his converted try. Scoreline increased further to 24-3 and the Students were showing some impressive play.
Although heavily disadvantaged in field position Norths did manage a penalty try for a collapsed rolling maul but trailed at halftime 24-10. University would now be facing the dominant breeze after the break and could not discount the fightback expected from Norths.
North’s did not disappoint their supporters on their Ladies Day. With the aid of the wind now Norths pegged the Students inside their quarter. Sinclair was throwing long passes and cut outs to the flanks. A big gap was identified by Norths off a maul. Fullback Burey darted through the gap and scored an easy try . University were now just a converted try ahead 24-17 . Plenty of time left for Norths to gain ascendancy over the Students.
University increased the buffer with another rolling maul try whilst Norths had a man in the bin. But once again Norths countered with a try after a chip kick behind the defensive line was regathered. There was only five points difference now and with the advantage of the wind Norths were attempting to pull a miracle win from behind.
University with a bit of luck held firm like Will McDonnell’s mother Maria’s Country Women’s Association souffle. The scrum was decisive for the Student’s as late penalties allowed Universities’ pack to scrum instead of line kick which whittled down the remaining time. University wound down the clock and ultimately came away with a much needed bonus point win.
Next week University are back at home against the unpredictable West Harbour Pirates.