The University of Melbourne Men’s Australian Rules Football team have defeated the University of Sydney to claim the inaugural Varsity Challenge Cup at University Oval.
With the sun shining brightly, the national anthem blaring out through the Ernie Cropley Pavilion speakers and Provost Professor Mark Considine tossing the coin, the game got off to the perfect start with Melbourne kicking the first goal in less than 15 seconds.
The partisan crowd of some 500 students, staff and alumni, fueled by a free sausage sizzle and pumped up by the marching band’s rendition of Eye of the Tiger, were treated to a blistering first quarter. Despite the fast start and kicking with the wind, Melbourne struggled to convert their remaining chances in the quarter kicking 6 behinds and not adding another goal while Sydney notched two majors to take a 1-point lead into quarter time. The second quarter was again tightly contested with Melbourne kicking two goals to take a narrow 6-point margin into half-time.
Whatever the coach said at half-time, it worked. Melbourne were dominant in the third quarter, kicking 5 goals and 3 behinds to Sydney's 1 goal 2, to finish the 'premiership quarter' 31 points ahead. Sydney failed to muster a last-term comeback, and Melbourne ran out 36-point winners to claim the first Varsity Challenge Cup. The final scores were Melbourne 9.17 - 71 to Sydney 5.5 - 35.
Melbourne's Sam Allen earned best-on-ground with an impressive 4-goal haul, while Sam Hodge and captain Matthew Blair were also impressive. Former Sydney Swan Lloyd Perris was the standout player for Sydney.
The match was streamed live through MU Sport’s Facebook page with a viewership of over 6000. Keep an eye on the Varsity Challenge website for fixtures and results, including the upcoming Netball competition.