Minor premiership in sight
11.08.2008 - Graham Croker
Sydney University have the 2008 Shute Shield minor premiership in their sights after defeating Eastwood 29-17 at T.G. Milner Field on Saturday.
The Students now have an eight-point buffer over second-placed Gordon, with home matches against fifth-placed Warringah and third-placed Randwick and an away match against cellar-dwellers Southern Districts to round out the season proper.
Sydney University started Saturday's match with pace and precision to establish a 17-nil lead in as many minutes. They nabbed a bonus-point try in the 25th minute and a fifth in the 34th minute to lead 29-0 at half-time.
With flanker Jono Jenkins and halfback Nick Haydon spending 10-minute stints in the sin-bin, the Students played a big chunk of the second half with 14 men. And with outside-centre Leo Afeaki taken off with concussion, a reshuffled backline saw winger Nick Edwards moved to the centres and Second Grade winger Hayden Bushell and halfback Matt Schwager spending time on the wing.
Despite those setbacks, the visitors held Eastwood to three second-half tries to run out solid winners.
Edwards opened the scoring in the fifth minute when he collected a cross-field kick from five-eighth Daniel Halangahu to score in the corner. Halangahu converted from touch.
The Students made in back-to-back tries when second-rower Hugh Hawkins made a break from the restart and found prop Laurie Weeks in support. He off-loaded to second-rower Al Campbell who sent prop Jerry Yanuyanutawa on a rampaging 30-metre run to the line.
The first scrum of the match wasn't set until the 15th minute and it was a much anticipated event with the young Sydney University frontrow of Weeks, Yanuyanutawa and Nathan Charles up against the experienced Matt Dunning, Todd Pearce and Aaron Broughton-Rouse.
The points went Sydney University's way - literally - when number eight Tim Davidson peeled off with the ball and sent Haydon on a 35-metre run to the line. He employed a dummy and speed to split two defenders before earning five points.
Eastwood rallied midway through the half and it took a try-saving tackle from fullback Nathan Trist on Eastwood winger John Grant to keep the hosts scoreless.
The Students returned fire on the back of a long-range touch-finder from Bushell. Strong lead-up work from the three University front-rowers resulted in Campbell sending inside-centre Dan P. Kelly over for the bonus-point try and a 22-nil lead.
The Students extended that to 29-nil when Haydon worked the blind-side from a ruck and sent Davidson on a 40-metre surge. He linked up with winger Ed Jenkins who sent the industrious Charles over for Halangahu to convert.
And that was it for the visitors. After an early second-half surge that almost brought a try for Trist, Eastwood began to dominate possession and territory. As soon as Jenkins returned to the fray, Haydon was sin-binned and during his time on the sidelines, Eastwood ran in two tries.
Outside-centre Rowan Kellam and winger Filipo Toala each went close from backline raids before hooker Todd Pearce posted the hosts' first points off a snipe from the front of a lineout. Fullback Ben Batger converted from the sideline.
The hosts continued to dominate territorially with the aid of a penalty count that finished 18-8. Operating from a scrum in the University quarter, busy halfback Josh Holmes fooled the defence with an angled run to the corner to take the score to 29-12.
Batger rewarded another Eastwood assault when he cruised over in the corner in the 65th minute, but that was it for the scoreboard attendant.
The Students rallied in the closing stages on the back of a scrum that grew stronger with each engagement.
The hosts had good performers in second-rowers Marty Wilson and Phil Mathers, skipper Hugh Perrett on the flank, and Holmes, Batger and Toala in the backs.
Trist was solid at the back for the Students, Ed Jenkins provided moments of danger, Haydon was industrious, albeit for 70 minutes, Davidson was back to his best, Campbell lasted the 80 minutes in his first outing for six weeks and the front-row continues to improve - at the scrum and around the ground.
Supporters are reminded that next Saturday's encounter against Warringah will be a night game under the newly-installed lights at No.1 Oval.
Colts run saved on the bell
The amazing unbeaten run in 2008 by the three Colts teams continued on Saturday, but only on the back of an after-the-bell try in First Grade.
Down 26-24 when the bell sounded and 80-metres from Eastwood's line at St Paul's College Oval, the Firsts mounted a multi-phase rearguard action that slowly but surely clawed back territory.
hen a penalty finally resulted in the Eastwood quarter, a quick tap saw five-eighth Matt Binks score the winning try. It was nail-biting stuff, but confirmation that the three teams are keen to defend their 2007 premiership titles.
Shute Shield - Round 19
First Grade: Sydney University 29 (Jerry Yanuyanutawa, Nathan Charles, Nick Edwards, Dan P. Kelly, Nathan Trist tries; Daniel Halangahu 2 goals) d Eastwood 17 (Todd Pearce, Josh Holmes, Ben Batger tries; Ben Batger goal) at T.G. Milner Field.
Second Grade: Eastwood 43 (Nathan Powyer 2, Nick Batger 2, Jim Mathers, Nick Gelling, Will Vatubua tries; Nathan Powyer 2, Dave Rimmer 2 goals) d Sydney University 8 (Jono Bowman try; Jeremy Atkin pen goal).
Third Grade: Sydney University 33 (Hugo Dessens 2, Duncan Hardy, Jamie Whelan, D. Amitutania tries; Scott Stumbles 4 goals) d Eastwood 15 (Dustin Eaton, Billy Silimeti, Mick Snowden tries).
Fourth Grade: Sydney University 26 (Ben Fomai 2, Hugh Caterson 2 tries; Will Stow 3 goals) d Eastwood 0.
Manly Savers 36 d Sydney University 21.
First Grade: Sydney University 29 (5 tries) d Eastwood 26 (4 tries) at St Paul's College Oval.
Second Grade: Sydney University 36 (6 tries) d Eastwood 0.
Third Grade: Sydney University 15 d Eastwood 0.
Sydney University 12 d Warringah 5.
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