Sydney University have taken out the John Thornett Cup and leapfrogged Northern Suburbs on the ladder with a 29-24 victory on Saturday afternoon.
With both sides coming off losses in round five there was no shortage of motivation and that resulted in a high-tempo clash with both teams prepared to spread the ball from side to side.
Uni opened up an 18-point lead but Norths slowly but surely got themselves back in within striking distance before a try off a rolling maul to the Students put the icing on the cake.
Norths outside-centre Jack Lindsay crossed with less than three minutes remaining to give the hosts a glimmer of hope but Uni held on to record their third win from six starts this year.
While it was not as clinical as their 50-0 demolition of Warringah in round three, University have showed they have the ingredients to win back-to-back premierships.
However, this wasn’t the easiest game on the eye given how many knock-ons and general mistakes were made.
James Kane, the leading point-scorer in the competition, continues to impress and scored a brilliant individual try.
An audacious chip and chase somehow ended up back in his hands thanks to a favourable bounce. Kane’s overall game was polished, his work-rate admirable, and he surely must be catching the eye of Super Rugby franchises.
“It’s been a bit of a turbulent start, a few results didn’t exactly go the way we planned but today the main focus was being clinical, executing and using our line speed and fitness to really determine the shape of the game,” said Kane, who was named man of the match. “Credit to the boys, they really did that. We stuck to the game plan.
“Being a back in this Sydney Uni team you get really good ball so being anywhere on the field, especially with our forward pack, is a great privilege.
“It’s about finding our feet again this year. The things we’re doing on the training paddock are really starting to come into the game.”
It was almost a no-contest at scrum time, with the Students completely dominant and earning penalty after penalty to put Norths under serious pressure.
Norths controlled the opening few minutes but a sensational 80-metre intercept try to James Armstrong opened up the game.
Uni prop Wayne Borsak’s excellent season continued as he scored a try close to the line to extend the lead to nine points.
Kane’s five-pointer gave University all the momentum before the home side struck back with a penalty try – which they completely deserved – to go into the break trailing 24-10.
When Harry Burey streaked away for Norths, the men in red and black had edged their way back to within seven points but were unable to get the job done.
In other results, ladder leaders Eastwood were pipped 29-27 by Eastern Suburbs and Western Sydney notched up their first win of the year against second-placed Southern Districts.
Warringah were too good for Randwick, while West Harbour and Gordon played out a thrilling draw at Concord Oval.
Shute Shield round six results
Norths 24 Sydney University 29
Eastwood 27 Eastern Suburbs 29
Southern Districts 24 Western Sydney 25
Warringah 35 Randwick 27
West Harbour 23 Gordon 23
Manly – bye