Sydney University came up short against GPS in the Australian Club Championship at Ballymore on Saturday.
Despite scoring 24 unanswered points to lead 24-7 in the second half, the Students were eventually pipped 37-31 in the pouring rain thanks to a second try from GPS No.8 Mitch King in the 72nd minute.
It was a just reward for GPS as they were crowned the best club side in Australia following an entertaining fightback.
“It’s awesome for the community and awesome to roll on from last year and hopefully start off the year really well,” said GPS captain Dan Gorman.
University had chances to win and even took back the lead in the 69th minute thanks to a brilliant pass from fullback James Kane that was finished off by a nippy run from Henry Clunies-Ross down the left wing.University captain Guy Porter said: “I think it was a combination of their nine and 10 really taking control. They kicked well and our ill-discipline [hurt us] I suppose. That probably swung the momentum of that game."
The Students broke a five-year Shute Shield title drought last year by easily accounting for Warringah 45-12 in September to book their spot for the match in Brisbane.
While University were without Waratahs representatives Nick Phipps, Jake Gordon, Lachlan Swinton and Tolu Latu, they showed enough positive signs to suggest they will once again be successful in the upcoming Shute Shield season that kicks off on April 6.
GPS scored first courtesy of King but two tries to Ben Hughes (pictured)in the opening 20 minutes down the left edge gave Uni plenty of momentum. Hughes spun out of consecutive tackles attempted by GPS winger Esera Tapeli Esera. The defence of Uni halfback Banjo Travers and a try to Tom Horton just before the break were highlights for the Students in a high tempo first half.
When Will Cocker crossed for a five-pointer early in the second half, University had scored 24 unanswered points, leaving GPS with few answers.After being shown a yellow card earlier in the match, GPS second-rower Ollie Bartlett made up for an error of judgment in a maul by helping reduce the deficit to 10 points with a try of his own.
Chris Kuridrani also dived over to bring GPS right back into the contest as they trailed 24-21.Two penalties in a row put GPS ahead before Clunies-Ross’s important five-pointer wrestled momentum back for the Students.However, GPS maintained their composure to seal the win.
Earlier, Warringah defeated University of Queensland 55-14 in the second-place challenge.