Tim Davidson will lead Sydney University into the Shute Shield Grand Final for an impressive eighth successive year when they take on Southern Districts on Saturday. The 28-year-old No. 8 captained the first grade side to six premiership titles from 2005 to 2010, with last year’s extra-time loss at the hands of Eastwood the only title to elude him.
By Nick Halfhide, images from Seiserphotography.com.au
Davidson is one of only five players in this year’s Grand Final team to have played in that match last year. While he says that loss will give them motivation, the squad’s belief comes from their efforts this season.
‘It’s the hard work that all the guys have put in this year that has got us into this position, he said. ‘It will give us confidence for the weekend, but we’re well aware that the job’s not done yet.’
A fitting finale to the 2012 Shute Shield season, this year’s Grand Final kicks off at 3.00pm this Saturday at Concord Oval and sees 47-time champions Sydney University take on Southern Districts, who make their first ever Grand Final appearance in the club’s 23 year history.
Southern Districts’ ascendency to a first-ever Shute Shield Grand Final is evidence of an emerging club looking to make a impact on the Sydney club rugby scene.
Since winning the second grade Colin Caird Shield in 2011, the club has developed a winning culture and this year, the players will be looking to go one better by adding their maiden first grade premiership.
The two sides boast some of the best rugby talent running around in NSW. With no less than 13 Super Rugby players taking to the pitch, the Grand Final promises to be a cracking contest, with the honours even so far this season. Round five saw Southern Districts come out on top winning their home game 26-23, with fly-half Rohan Saifoloi playing an integral part in the victory alongside the Rebels’ forward pack who starved Uni of possession.
But with the University combinations beginning to click, it was a different story in round 16. Part of an imposing back row, Davidson bagged two tries on the day to help his side make the most of their home advantage, running in a 45-17 point victory at University Oval No. 1.
The Grand Final this Saturday is sure to be a tight contest, with both teams proving themselves to be the teams to beat in the lead-up to the finals series.
Southern Districts have made three changes to the side that defeated Manly in the preliminary final last weekend with prop Tim Metcher grabbing a Grand Final start after impressing off the bench last week. Andrew Leota replaces Wallaby newcomer Kane Douglas, while Ben Connolly will start on the wing replacing the injured Rob Horne.
Sydney University make one change to the side that defeated Northern Suburbs in their preliminary final last weekend, with fly-half Dan Kelly returning to the side after missing last week’s match and Angus Roberts shifting back to the fullback position.
Southern Districts: 1. Tetera Faulkner, 2. John Ulugia (c), 3. Tim Metcher; 4. Jed Holloway, 5. Andrew Leota; 6. Matt Swann, 7. Jono Hayes, 8. Lopeti Timani; 9. Grayson Hart, 10. Rohan Saifolio; 11. Ben Connolly, 12. Apo Latunipulu, 13. Nic Cummins, 14. Atieli Pakalani; 15. Ben Volalvola.
Sydney University: 1. Jeremy Tilse, 2. Nathan Charles, 3. Paddy Ryan; 4. Liam Winton, 5. Ollie Atkins; 6. Trent Dyer, 7. David Hickey, 8. Tim Davidson (c); 9. Nic Stirzaker, 10. Dan Kelly; 11. Michael Hodge, 12. Tom Carter, 13. Mitch Inman, 14. Tom Kingston; 15. Angus Roberts.
Referee: Steve Walsh
Tickets for the 2012 Shute Shield Grand Final at Concord Oval on Saturday, 15 September (3.00pm), are available for discounted advance purchase through Ticketek, priced from $2.50 to $45, or available on the gate priced from just $5 for Under 16s. Viewers across NSW and ACT can watch the match live on ABC1.