Referee: Peter Marshall.
Half-time: Uni 15-8. Crowd: 12,088.
Sydney Uni celebrate Grand Final glory September 8, 2001
Sydney University held off a determined second half comeback by Eastwood to secure the Citibank MasterCard Cup with a 27-20 win at the Sydney Football Stadium this afternoon.
The students dominated the lineouts, possession and territory in the first 40 minutes to give them a 15-8 lead at half time, and they looked certain to finish the job in the second half.
But to Eastwood’s credit they made a spirited comeback in the second half to give the 12,000 strong crowd a gripping finish. A knee injury to flyhalf Tim Donnelly in the opening minutes put a spanner in Eastwood’s works right from the start. His direction and kicking was sorely missed, as University went on the rampage in the first 40 minutes.
University flyhalf and captain Chris Malone opened the scoring with an early penalty goal but Eastwood struck back when winger Matt Miller counter attacked off an attempted chip and chase by University fullback Ed Carter.
Miller sent the ball to Paul Dineen then on to Alan McDonald for an Eastwood try and a 5-3 lead. In the 22nd minute Chris Malone featured again when he slipped through a gap and popped a good pass to Nigel Staniforth in support for a University try, converted by Malone for a 10-5 lead. A penalty to Eastwood made it 10-8 but University were clearly dominating. Uni scrumhalf Scott Stumbles charged down a Peter Miller clearance kick which very nearly led to a Luke Inman try.
Continued pressure from University then saw Phil Waugh take a bullet pass from Chris Malone and score in the right corner for a 15-8 lead at halftime. The bad news for Eastwood coach Chris Hickey continued in the second half when an attacking backline move was turned over, picked up beautifully by Chris Malone, who dished off to a rampaging Jone Tawake.
The 19-year-old was cut down by the defence but he managed to hand off to Luke Inman who scored under the posts. Malone converted and University skipped clear 22-8. Midway through the second half the Eastwood attack finally came alive and starting putting pressure on the University line but often spoilt their efforts through lack of finishing or ill-discipline.
While pressing the University line, Eastwood flanker Adam Leach was caught by the touch judge in an incident off the ball and was yellow carded. Minutes later Eastwood centre Paul Dineen failed to hold a final pass which would have put in him under the posts. A charge down in University’s quarter provided Eastwood yet another opportunity but a professional foul by University fullback Ed Carter, who held back an Eastwood player without the ball, denied the try and earned Carter 10 minutes in the sin bin.
Finally Eastwood converted pressure to points when number eight Jeff Reid scored after driving through a lineout 10 metres out from the student’s line. The missed conversion put Eastwood nine points behind at 22-13. This only seemed to re-ignite the University team who were conscious of their Grand Final losses in 1999 and 2000. Malone put Wallaby backrower David Lyons into space who then drew the defenders and popped up a beautiful pass to Luke Inman who only had to fall over the line for the try. University 27-13.
With just six minutes to go Eastwood game themselves a chance with a try to winger Matt Miller, converted by brother Peter to make it 27-20 to University. The Woodies then threw everything at Sydney University and with time up on the clock they kept the ball alive for several attacking phases.
But a turnover and kick into touch by University signalled the end of the game and the start of the celebrations for the students who take home their first Sydney premiership since 1972.
SYDNEY UNIVERSITY 27 [Luke Inman 2, Nigel Staniforth, Phil Waugh, tries, Chris Malone 2 con, 1 pen] defeated
EASTWOOD 20 [Alan McDonald, Jeff Reid, Matt Miller tries, Peter Miller 1 con, 1 pen]. Referee: Peter Marshall. Half-time: Uni 15-8. Crowd: 12,088. (AAP)