Shute Shield: Sydney Uni Stride Past Galloping Greens
by Brendan Bradford –
Sydney University are turning the screws on another Shute Shield season, recording their fifth straight win with a 38-25 defeat of Randwick at a rain-swept Uni Oval on Saturday.
Leading 26-6 at halftime with a four-try bonus point already in the bag, the Students nabbed another two after the break before the Galloping Greens hit back with three second-half tries.
A late Randwick comeback wasn’t completely out of the question, but the match as a contest was effectively over by halftime as the Uni forwards dominated the visiting pack.
“It was won in the first 50-minutes I suppose,” said Uni coach Chris Malone.
“We knew that Randwick were going to come here and throw the ball around, so we had to be on our toes and thankfully we were.
“Everyone’s been talking about the running game that they’ve got, but they went through the forwards most of the time and they’re a very good team.”
Having lost three of their first four games of the season, the Students go into the bye week on-form and full of confidence.
“It’s only the halfway point of the season and we’ve had a lot of inexperience at times – we’ve had seven number 10s this year – and that’s just part of the deal,” said Malone.
“And the fact is, we’re going to lose matches – we probably should have won most of them – but the last five weeks have been good and the attitude has been good.”
After confidence-building wins over Northern Suburbs and Southern Districts, Randwick were brought back to Earth against the well-oiled Students pack.
“We were confident after the last two games and all the boys are getting used to the gameplan, but I think we just dropped off a little bit in intensity today,” said Galloping Greens captain Seilala ‘Lala’ Lam.
“It’s always a tough game against Sydney Uni, who are an all-round class team and another step up and I think they just out-powered and out-enthused us.”
The result lifts Uni one place to third on the table while Randwick drop a spot to seventh, but the big talking-point for Australian rugby was the return of star playmaker Kurtley Beale. Looking fit and relaxed at fullback, Beale showed glimpses of his class with ball in hand but struggled to ignite the Galloping Greens’ backline against a dominant Uni forward pack in his first Shute Shield match since the 2010 Grand Final.
Beale’s former Waratahs teammate Drew Mitchell was a second-half replacement on the wing for Randwick and the 29-year-old back, who is leaving for France at the end of the Super Rugby season, said it was great to play a final game with his good friend.
“I didn’t know when I’d get the opportunity to come back and play with KB again now that I’m taking off, so I wanted to come back and have a bit of a run-around with him and it turned out to be an alright 40-minutes which is good.”
The 63-Test cap Mitchell said he had little doubt Beale could slot into the Wallabies side against the Lions in coming weeks.
“It’s going to be different for everyone, but I think Kurtley picks things up really well and he played a pivotal role in ball playing today after one training session without knowing the structures or the players, so I think when he gets into a squad environment and he knows people and the structures, I don’t think it would be too much of an issue.
“I’m certainly not forecasting his selection, but I know that if he was selected, I’d back the guy.”
Sydney University 38 (Jake Gordon 2, Tom Carter, Tim Davidson, Tom Kingston, James Willan tries; Byron Hodge 4 cons) d Randwick 25 (Cayden Matehaere 2, Faitotoa Asa tries; Cayden Matehaere 2 cons, 2 pens). Referee Simon Moore.