Davidson leads Students to sixth title
An impregnable defensive line and astute play from five-eighth Berrick Barnes were the keys to
After establishing a 16-6 half-time lead,
And it was the sixth premiership in a row with Tim Davidson at the helm. Indeed, when Davidson rejoined the side midway through the season, they were running ninth and long odds to defend their title. After he took over the captaincy, the Students won 10 successive games to finish fourth on the competition ladder, followed by two sudden-death finals matches to reach the grand final. The 13 straight win earned them the Shute Shield.
The win topped off another strong season for Sydney University, who reclaimed the Sir Roden Cutler Shield late in the season, won a seventh successive Club Championship and a sixth successive Colts Club Championship and premierships in First and Second Grade Colts. And, it is believed
With injured five-eighth Daniel Halangahu, man-of-the-match in the past three grand finals, watching from the sidelines, Barnes emulated his efforts with a 26-point haul on Saturday – a try, five penalty goals and three conversions – and a clever kicking and passing game. And he was only on the park for just over an hour, being given an early mark and replaced by Dan Kelly in the 63rd minute.
The Students also had a target in dynamic fullback Kurtley Beale, who was often turned around with some astute kicking to the corners and kept in check when he ghosted into five-eighth in attack. Beale played the full 80 minutes with intent, and made a number of try-saving tackles, including one late in the day when he had to turn and run down speedy University replacement Greg Jeloudev. The Wicks had another strong performer in loosehead prop Sekope Kepu, who almost scored in the opening minutes from a well-worked lineout move, and was bundled into touch in the closing seconds, agonizingly close to scoring his team’s first try of the day.
The Wicks worked their way back into the University half on the back of successive penalties and five-eighth Toby Browne landed a penalty goal in the 26th minute to close the margin. But it was short-lived when Barnes landed another two minutes later.
He hit the uprights with another attempt in the 33rd minute – his first miss in three matches that had yielded 69 points – but struck again three minutes later to push the margin to 16-3.
The Students’ second try came from a rehearsed move off a five-metre scrum, with number eight Davidson peeling wide to find Burgess, who turned the ball back to blindside winger Alfi Mafi. He skidded over with the help of busy flanker Jono Jenkins. Barnes converted and the Students led 29-6.
His replacement Kelly didn’t take long to make his mark, sending Jeloudev close to the line. Blindside flanker Ben McCalman appeared to have scored from the breakdown but it was disallowed. Fresh from Test duties, McCalman was one of the better forwards on the ground. Having won premierships as a second-rower for University, before making his Test debut as a number eight, he was back to his Australian Schoolboy position at blindside flanker on Saturday.
The try eventually came after a five-phase build-up before Kelly, Carter and Huxley combined to send winger Peter Betham over for a well-taken five-pointer.
With the clock running down Kelly made a long, angled run to the line where McCalman bobbed up on the blindside of the ruck to score a well-deserved try.
In difficult conditions, Huxley handled the high ball with aplomb, often counter-attacking and maintaining valuable possession.
The only disappointing aspect of the performance was that the Students didn’t post more tries in the final half-hour. The other disappointment was the early demise of the lower grades in the cut-throat finals.
Shute Shield First Grade: Sydney University 46 (Tom Carter, Alfi Mafi, Berrick Barnes, Peter Betham, Ben McCalman tries; Berrick Barnes 3 goals, 5 pen goals) d Randwick 6 (Toby Browne 2 pen goals) at Concord Oval. Man of the match: Berrick Barnes.
Colin Caird Shield Second Grade: Warringah 19 d
J.R. Henderson Cup Fourth Grade: Eastern Suburbs 13 d
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