Sydney Uni takes out Shute Shield title in 'surreal' fashion

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman in Japan

Sydney Uni is back on top of the Shute Shield after a 45-12 win over Warringah in the grand final.

The students, who finished the regular season as minor premiers, overcame a tight start to score 28 second-half points and claim their first Shute Shield since 2013 in front of a crowd of 15,500.

Halfback Jake Gordon put in a star performance for Uni with two first-half tries off the back of a dominant scrum.

Gordon has long been a part of Sydney Uni and played in their losing 2016 grand final against Norths.

That loss made Saturday's victory all the sweeter for the Waratahs nine.

"Unbelievable. I came into Sydney Uni about a month ago and to see how hard the guys were working, especially our captain Rohan O'Regan who heads overseas next week, to see the effort they've put in is really pleasing," he said.

Tolu Latu crashed over for Sydney Uni. Photo: Karen Watson"There was about five of us that were in 2016 that were unlucky not to get the win. To go through it with the same five and win it and also with the other guys (was great)."

Uni's star-studded side was in the spotlight during the week with Wallabies Nick Phipps and Tolu Latu but Gordon said their inclusions would only help the Shute Shield as a whle.

"As the banner says 'Anyone but Uni' but I feel like we're bringing up the level of club rugby and it's for everyone to come meet us," he said.

Leading by 10 points at the break, Uni piled on two tries in the first five minutes of the second half to break the game open in their favour.

It was a tight tussle early on and it took a penalty from winger James Kane to break the deadlock in the 10th minute.

A Seb Wileman break put Warringah in a dangerous spot, with an ensuing five-metre lineout but they coughed up a penalty that snuffed out that chance.

Some slick attack from Uni halfback Jake Gordon put the students back on the attack but they were undone by some relentless Rats defence and some poor decision-making.

Eventually their field position paid off with Gordon scoring their first in the 25th minute ending what was shaping up as a war of attrition.

The teams were parked in Uni’s attack as the first half went on but a scintillating run from Josh Holmes put Warringah back on the attack and a lateral movement opened up a gap for fullback Dave Feltscheer to pounce on.

Uni burst out of the blocks in the second half with a Harry Potter try and a penalty try in the first five minutes opening the gap up to 24 points.

The students’ powerful scrum was a cornerstone of their win and they went back to it at nearly every opportunity.

Warringah took their chances when they had them, with outside centre Seb Wileman narrowing the gap in the 60th minute.

That score buoyed the Rats’ confidence but a Tolu Latu reply off a sensational Nick Phipps pass put an end to their momentum and Sydney Uni had one hand on the trophy.

On-point kicker Kane added to his form in front of the sticks with a try in the 69th minute to put the result really beyond doubt.

The win capped off a dominant 2018 season for Sydney Uni, who finished the regular season as minor premiers before claiming the title.

Coach Rob Taylor said the win was surreal in his first season as 

"It's a bit surreal," he said.

"So much work goes into this and the boys just delivered today.

"it was nice not to have a one point type game there at the end so probably have those nerves early on in the second half but to finish like that we were able to enjoy it, watch it like spectators and just be really happy for the team and this is amazing.

"Awesome support from our supporters and parents and that to come out and make it a real special day.

Taylor said the crowd showed the appetite for rugby in Australia was still certainly healthy.

"So good for rugby in this country, club footy. What a spectacle," he said.

"A lot of them are from Warringah and hats off to them and their support and their community.

"We were able to benefit from that today to have such an atmosphere. Great for rugby and maybe the rats supporters weren't too happy with the outcome but (we want to say) thanks for coming out and just getting behind rugby overall." 

The Rats have made a habit of close comeback wins in 2018 but this was a bridge too far for the side from Sydney's northern beaches.

RESULT

Sydney Uni 45

Tries: Gordon 2, Potter, Penalty, Latu, Kane

Cons: Kane 5

Pens: Kane

Warringah 12

Tries: Feltscheer, Wileman

Cons: Angus