Last week University were branded by the Sydney rugby milieu as a fudgel *fifteen after their loss to the resurgent Two Blues. But, the Students redeemed themselves on a day of milestones. Outside centre Henry Clunies-Ross notched 100 Grade games. Forwards Coach, long tall Mark Bakewell also did not utilise his pre-purchased plot at Waverley cemetery after a pulsating heart thumping finish to a 17-12 victory.
Both sides were not showing any fracture in their armour during the first twelve minutes. When University finally received field position with an attacking five metre lineout, Captain of the University ship, Jack McCalman completed the procedure by latching onto a rolling maul to score a try.
But this early hiatus was short lived as Norths were making some inroads inside the University half. Some missed tackles in the middle, allowed Norths to capitalise on a half break. Their big second rower, Henaway was out in the clear and later executed a sweet dummy to hoodwink the University defence and score under the posts for a converted try.
Both sides were applying some physical play and big tackles were aplenty. In the latter stages of the half University managed to camp themselves inside the Shoremen’s quarter. The University pack applied some of their renowned tradecraft rucking. The rucking was of such a ferocious nature causing Norths to feel like a tub of Woolworths Evergreen silken tofu being hit with a mallet. The end result- a converted try right beside the posts scored by number eight the hot tip to be the new James Bond, 007 himself, Mitch Whiteley. A 12-7 lead at halftime and running with a breeze in the second half awaited the Students.
The grinding nature of the game continued in the second half until Norths dangerous five-eighth Max Burey conjured something out of middle earth. Burey applied an ad lib example of rugby by running diagonally, chipping overhead regathering then making another darting run towards the try line. Conversion was unsuccessful but Norths were focused to empty the tank against their rivals.
For a long period thereafter both sides could not breach the others defence until inside centre, Eddie Poolman decided enough was enough. Poolman dumbfounded all and sundry at the ground by deciding to make a scything diagonal run from inside the Norths half. Poolman’s run had an almost biblical element as he parted defenders like the Red Sea akin to Charlton Heston in The Ten Commandments. Some recycling saw another phase of rucking allowing debutant Clem Halaholo to score. An unsuccessful conversion still allowed Norths an opportunity to achieve victory with the score line reflecting 17-12.
University were receiving some good luck with Norths knocking on or giving penalties to alter the momentum. But in scenes where you would expect the ground announcer to say,“Is there a cardiologist in the ground?” heart rates raised exponentially. Norths were able to string together penalties and phase play to camp themselves deep inside the University quarter.
The clock was winding down with approximately ninety seconds remaining. If University could hold out a rumbling Norths they would warrant a lifetime voucher at Clem’s Chickens King Street Newtown.
A dangerous five metre lineout was quelled. But momentary relief was short lived when Norths were throwing everything at the Students. The bell had sounded and the ball was still live. University were desperate to hold them out or sweat on a mistake to end the game.
The last phase witnessed Norths quickly spread the ball to their winger inside the University quarter. But simultaneously replacement winger Angus Bell timed his tackle to hit the attacker when he received the ball. The ball was fumbled and it was all over and the Students were heading home with the John Thornett Cup.
Tears of joy were coming from the University players. It was a win to reverse from last week’s horror movie.
Head Coach, Sean Hedger was happy but still believed the best was yet to come from his charges, “We learned from last week . I was impressed today but we can still work on improving our execution. Norths have a great lineout and we had a good contest there.”
Forwards Coach, Mark Bakewell was reliving his affinity with the afterlife, “Do that again they’ll go to my funeral. Although, a win like that is better than last week’s loss by far.”
Last but not least milestone man with the hyphen name Henry Clunies-Ross left us with words of wisdom after a monumental eighty minutes. “I want to go to the grave with a preserved body.” Thank you Henry for those words which only you can understand.
University go head-to-head with another arch rival Eastern Suburbs at Woollahra next Saturday.
*fudgel: pretending to work when you are actually not doing anything at all.
Tries: Jack McCalman, Mitch Whiteley, Clem Halaholo
Conversions: Jude Gibbs