A second half try from stand out winger James Dargaville put Sydney Uni in front and they were able to sustain pressure in the dying seconds of a match of finals-like intensity to retain the Australian Club Championship.
Despite the heart-breaking last minute loss, Easts head coach Pat Richards was pleased with his teams performance without some top players, away with Queensland Reds and Reds A’s duties, signifying the depth of the club and a promising season ahead.
“I think [the result] is excellent for the depth of the club, it shows what we’re about at the club which is building depth”
“The guys that came in really put their hands up and that shows we’re in good hands.”
Sydney Uni opened the scoring not long into the game when flanker Tom Boidin pounced on a loose ball that popped out of a dismantled Easts scrum from five metres out.
However a yellow card to Uni lock Liam Winton gave Easts a man advantage and during his sin-binning Easts number eight Johnny Kalavata barged his way over after receiving a pop pass from lock Greg Riley.
Easts scored another after a piece of brilliance from fly-half Matt Brandon, chipping through and pilfering the ball back from Uni fullback Jack Macklin and ended with centre EJ Fa’aofa beating two front rowers out wide to score.
The loud and at times hostile Easts crowd provided a sensational atmosphere to the match and caused numerous players lifted themselves.
Easts continued to build on their momentum with linebreaks by centre Toby White, Kalavata, Fa’aofa and support from flanker Joshua Parry but were unable to capitalise.
Uni then hit back with an opportunistic attack outwide which saw winger Sam English run 40 metres to score.
The second half started much like the first with Uni opening the scoring with centre Chris Ingate spinning a great pass to lethal finisher Dargaville who crossed in the corner and retook the lead.
Uni were then given a further advantage after Easts replacement backrower Manasa Rokosuka was given yellow after tempers flared in the intensely fast and physical encounter.
They then looked to capitalise on the man advantage and Easts looked in trouble defending four men out wide with only two defenders but White saved the Tigers intercepting a pass and shortly after were deep in Uni’s 22.
Easts had the opportunity to win in the last minute but strong defence from Uni and a dropped ball out wide metres from the tryline ended the match in Uni’s favour.
Sydney University 19 (tries: Boidin, English, Dargaville, cons: Hodge 2), Easts Tigers 14 (tries: Kalavata, Fa’aofa, cons: Brandon)