North Sydney Oval that convivial setting just off Dr John Bradfield’s masterpiece-the Sydney Harbour Bridge, hosted University’s semi final against Northern Suburbs last Saturday. There was no home ground advantage as the Students cruised to a 40-7 victory. The victory now sees a repeat of last years grand final against the Warringah Rats at the new Bankwest Stadium Parramatta.
The Students were facing a wind coming south off the harbour but that did not stop them scoring after five minutes. A massive touch finder by James Kane saw the lethal University set piece five metre rolling maul unleashed for hooker Declan Moore to score a converted try.
Norths were having difficulties piercing the University defence. Whenever University had camped inside the Norths quarter there was almost a choker hold on Norths who were desperately trying to gain some field position. The University forward pack were having a jolly good time picking and driving with a driving scrum thrown in for good measure. University forwards led by the veteran Dave McDuling were hammering the Norths line in a sequence. Captain Guy Porter then showed he is a test referee in the making after being tackled. Displaying knowledge of rugby by laws, Porter released the ball when tackled, regathered and proceeded forward to plant an easy try under the posts. 14-0 was the scoreline and University looked confident.
It was all University’s trademark forward play stifling the Shoremen to be shunted in the scrums or exhausted through relentless picks and drives. Wily half back Jake Gordon later scored a simple try after receiving a pop ball off number eight Rohan O’Regan driving blind off a five metre scrum.
But the Students confidence was brought back to earth when Norths rolled the dice and commenced to back each other up. Their captain Hugh Sinclair made a burst and offloaded to his supports allowing their winger Cam Clark to finally race away to score a good converted try beneath the Moreton Bay Fig Tree. Unfortunately Norths 2019 run stopped there as they were the only points they recorded .
The second half was no different as University played an easy game plan stifling Norths momentum with their abrasive disciplined forward pack. Norths had no respite from the University set piece and some easy tries were scored against the Shoremen.
University were intelligently rotating players off the bench in anticipation of next week’s grand final. Big Angus Bell at prop made his presence felt with another rampaging run. Nick Phipps at halfback continued the clever play in conjunction with the dominant forwards. Soon the score had ballooned to 40-7. The full time siren sounded and University did enough to get to the big show next week. It was not a classic grinding arm wrestle but it did the job for next week.
Back to back grand finals is a great achievement and University must remain focused for the big job ahead in battling those nefarious green rats from Warringah.