Trist on song as Uni edge Norths under the lights

Photo: SPA Images

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Round Six of the Tooheys New Shute Shield kicked off on Friday night at the birthplace of Australian rugby, where Sydney Uni were looking to bounce back from their shock loss last week to Southern Districts. Their opponents were Northern Suburbs, a young and fast-improving team who pushed much-fancied Gordon to the wire last time out.

An inauspicious start for Norths saw them give away a short-arm penalty straight from the kick-off, and the home side opted to test out their scrum. Scott Stumbles fed a quick ball from the base out wide, and three short passes later, Nathan Trist found himself crossing the line far too easily. The fullback couldn’t convert his own good work, but it was still a soft opening from the Shoremen.

Five minutes later, Trist added a penalty to his teams tally after extended pressure in the visitors 22, with Norths seemingly stuck in the changing rooms.

Uni’s backs were repeatedly getting across the advantage line, with the Brumbies’ Alfi Mafi running some great lines and linking well with outside centre Mitch Inman.

A lengthy kick from Trist found Norths’ Anthony Shortis isolated, and with five Students bearing down on him. The inevitable turnover saw the ball swung to the right flank, where another infringement gave Trist his third shot at the posts for an 11-0 lead.

Chances at both ends in the 20th minute saw the game come to life. Livewire Sam Latunipulu fed Matt Lamont, who skipped two tackles and headed for the posts. Felled short of the line he couldn’t control his offload and the ball was intercepted by Stumbles. The scrum-half skipped away and over the halfway-line, and a try looked inevitable as he passed to Mafi in space. But the winger couldn’t hold on, much to Norths’ relief.

The lucky escape invigorated the visitor’s, and they suddenly took the game to Uni. A terrific burst through the middle by fullback Andrew Smith found some clean air, and he drew the last defender in textbook style before passing inside for Lamont to go under the posts. Jarrod Murphy added the extras, and it was game on.

Smith, Andrew runs 010509D-3444.JPG

Norths fullback Andrew Smith was a real handful on the night – Photo: SPA Images

But just as Norths were getting settled, they coughed up another soft try. A couple of bulwarking drives from prop Jerry Yanuyanutawa punched some holes into the Shoremen’s defence and attracted in defenders. Uni spread the ball to the space they’d created on the openside, where Trist again found himself in the right place at the right time to grab his second of the night. He had no problems with the extras either, and the Students had a buffer at 18-7.

The first half hour had been all Uni’s at the breakdown, but the pendulum started to swing towards Norths as they went in hard and created some good turnover ball. They were looking dangerous from open play, but any pressure they tried to exact on the Uni 22 was usually returned with interest by the well-placed Trist.

However, just on half-time they gained some reward for their progress. Smith – proving a real handful – gained good metres with a succession of breaks, ably supported by skipper Steve Evans who kept the tempo of the attack high with his quick feeds. As they edged closer to the Uni line the Students’ patience wore thin, and they conceded a penalty. Murphy stroked it over to the sound of the siren, and Norths were back in it at 18-10.

Uni came out fired up for the second-half, looking to hurt their visitors early. But Norths had played their way into this match now, and had designs of their own on a rare victory at Oval No.1.

The two sides went at it for the next 20 minutes with neither prepared to yield, before the game entered a crucial period on the hour as both teams were reduced to 14 men. Norths no.8 James Fitzgerald was the first to see yellow, referee Angus Gardner deeming him guilty of a spear tackle. But Uni weren’t able to take advantage of the extra man for very long.

Minutes later and a tussle for possession on halfway saw Norths’ flying winger Corey Brown emerge from the traffic, and head into opposition territory. He ran at the line and chipped over the top, only to be illegally obstructed by Nick Edwards. Advantage over, two men in the sin-bin.

The resultant penalty was knocked over by Murphy, and the Shoremen were within five points. And that was soon reduced to just two when Murphy converted a penalty, given after Smith had fallen short of the line following another powerful surge.

Trist, Nathan passing 010509D-3296.JPG

Nathan Trist bagged 19 of Uni’s points with a wonderful individual performance – Photo: SPA Images

The Students kept their composure and probed the Norths defence looking for a breakthrough. A huge effort from the front row got them within striking distance, and when Norths conceded a penalty the breathless forwards urged Trist to take the kick. He did, and duly made it 21-16.

With both teams now back to their full complement, there were only two minutes left on the clock when Uni came up with the crucial play, breaking Norths’ hearts in the process.

With the Shoremen desperate to be in Uni’s half, Murphy arrowed a kick downfield. But before his chasers could get there, Mafi met it brilliantly on the half-volley and soccered it back through the rushing bodies. The Norths defence turned to chase, but Mafi had the forward momentum, picked up the ball and crossed the line to claim the vital score.

Trist couldn’t add the extras but it was to be the last action of the match as full-time sounded, and Uni had run out anything but comfortable 26-16 winners.

A harsh result for Norths, who at the very least deserved a losing bonus point. It just shows that you can’t switch off against Uni’s attack for a second. The Students could have had more with better execution, but if Norths had had more belief in the first half hour, it may well have been a different outcome.

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SYDNEY UNIVERSITY 26 (Nathan Trist 2, Alfi Mafi tries; Nathan Trist 3 pens, con) defeated NORTHERN SUBURBS 16 (Matt Lamont try; Jarrod Murphy 3 pens, con) at University Oval No.1. Referee: Angus Gardner. HT: 18-10

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Sydney University: 1. Jerry Yanuyanutawa, 2. Ben Roberts, 3. Paddy Ryan; 4. David McDuling, 5. Anthony Pholan; 6. David Haigh, 7. Pat McCutcheon, 8. Ben McCalman; 9. Scott Stumbles, 10. Toby L’Estrange; 11. Nick Edwards, 12. Michael Hodge, 13. Mitch Inman, 14. Alfi Mafi; 15. Nathan Trist

Northern Suburbs: 1. Tai Vea, 2. Ryan Dalziel, 3. Tim Archibald; 4. Brian Doyle, 5. Pat Maile; 6. Matt Lamont, 7. Sam Latinipulu, 8. James Fitzgerald; 9. Steve Evans [c], 10. Jarrod Murphy; 11. Corey Brown, 12. Chris Moore, 13. Codie Medway, 14. Anthony Shortis; 15. Andrew Smith

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First published by clubrugby.com.au on May 2nd, 2009

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