Despite a very smoky Sydney summer so far, our teams are powering on ahead in the run up to Christmas and showing plenty of #TeamUNSW spirit.

Our First Grade team started the 50 over competition where they left off after winning the T20 competition, sprinting to the head of the pack with two wins in the first two rounds, defeating St George-Sutherland and Penrith fairly comprehensively. However in Round 3 they came up against their opponents from the T20 Final, Northern Districts, and they were out for blood. Norths won the toss and elected to bat and all of their top five put together decent totals. Universities struggled to take wickets, but managed to limit Norths to 4/267 which was a total they could work with. Bess Heath was sensational in reply, opening Universities' innings in her typical style, smashing 72 off just 49 balls including nine boundaries, before being dismissed with the score at 2/93. Unfortunately the wickets fell regularly after that and Universities struggled to put together a partnership. Captain Olivia Porter scored 74, but Norths severely restricted her run rate until they frustrated her into throwing away her wicket. The team finished the innings at 8/252, 15 runs short of Norths' total.

Second Grade have struggled through the start of the 50 over competition and are yet to notch up their first win. They play the equally winless Sydney this weekend and will be looking to get some good runs on the board to kickstart their season. Against Norths last weekend, our women won the toss and chose to bat, but just when a good opening partnership was starting to build, wickets started falling and they didn't stop. Darshana Kannan (26) was the top scorer for Universities, with no other batters managing more than 20 runs as the team finished their innings on 7/111. Norths were dominant in reply, reaching the total in less than 30 overs to take the win for the loss of only one wicket - taken by Aarya Shipurkar. Third Grade finished off their 40 over competition, unfortunately going down to the top of the table St George-Sutherland Slayers. A strong 50 from Kirsten Wraith at the top of the order wasn't enough for Universities, they finished on 7/91 and the Slayers ran it down in just under 16 overs to take the game, with Emily Cooksey taking the only wicket.

First and Second Grades play Sydney this weekend, while Third Grade has a break until their T20 competition kicks off in January. The Under 18 Brewer Shield also starts this weekend, with our Brewers girls also taking on Sydney in their first round. 

UNSW are midway through a two day round against the old enemy Sydney Uni. First Grade didn't have the ideal start, being sent in by Sydney Uni after losing the toss. Wickets fell with alarming regularity until Suthangan Thanabalasingam came to the crease to steady the ship with a well played 44. Unfortunately he eventually ran out of batting partners as the last four batters were all stumped - quite a day out for Sydney Uni's keeper! UNSW were all out for 133 and had to get out on the field and try to restrict the damage. In reply Sydney Uni are 1/151 where they will resume this weekend. Declan White has the only wicket for UNSW so far.

In Second Grade Sydney Uni batted first and racked up a decent total of 241. Sanjit Selverajoo starred for UNSW with the ball, taking 5/52 from his 16 overs. In reply UNSW are on track at 4/102 with Benedict Geddes (62) and Selverajoo (3) to resume tomorrow. In Third Grade Sydney Uni opted to bat first and UNSW got off to a great start, demolishing the batting line up to have them all out for 170. Akash Biradar (4/15) and Mitchell Law (3/34) were the pick of the bowlers for UNSW. The great start soon soured though, as UNSW fell to 4/18 with no batter getting out single figures. The game will resume tomorrow with a determined Rohan Indap on 8 and Aaron Crofts ready to join him at the crease. 

Fourth Grade had a tough batting innings, falling to 131 after 71 overs with only Charles Williams (34) having a real impact. However they had a great start to their bowling innings, immediately dismissing Sydney Uni's opener for a duck and will look to push on with that form this weekend with Sydney Uni at 1/4. Fifth Grade are in a great position after dismissing Sydney Uni for 159 with Rhys Burinaga (3/21) and Cheran Ganesan (3/51) the pick of the bowlers. They resume tomorrow on 1/93 with Daniel Siu on 50 and Daniel Bowcock on 22.

Our gridiron teams have semi finals this weekend and will be hoping to qualify for the grand final the following week. The Raiders Men's team are in an excellent position, finishing at the top of the ladder and earning them a week off last week when the preliminary finals were played. With only one loss from 10 games this season they will be feeling confident and ready to take on whatever Sydney Uni throws at them. Our women's team had a great finish to the season to end up in second place and will also play Sydney Uni this weekend for a place in the grand final, after also earning the right to sit out the first week of finals last weekend. The Colts unfortunately had a loss in the first week of finals and won't progress further this season, but they had a great season of development and will come back stronger in 2020.

The UNSW Raiders Colts team had strong development this season and are now looking to 2020.
The UNSW Raiders Colts team had strong development this season and are now looking to 2020.

A very tough loss to our women's handball team last week, going down to Sydney Uni 32-35. They have a bye this week to rest and come back refreshed to take on UTS the week after. The men's team also had a loss to Sydney Uni going down 27-41. They play bottom of the table Harbourside this weekend and will be pushing for a strong win.

UNSW Women had a tough loss to Sydney Uni last weekend.
UNSW Women had a tough loss to Sydney Uni last weekend.

Congratulations to Ben Lexcen Scholar and Elite Athlete Program member Matilda McDonell who was this week named in the Australian squad for the World Youth Cup in 2021. The selection of this initial squad of 24 athletes has been based on performances in Suncorp Super Netball, the Deakin University Australian Netball League, the National Netball Championships and training camps throughout 2019. The squad will first meet at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra on Friday 14 February for a four-day training camp that will commence Netball Australia’s 2021 Netball World Youth Cup campaign. A second squad selection will then be made at the beginning of August 2020 and these athletes will represent Australia on a tour of Fiji later in the year where the squad will play several matches to prepare them for international competition. We wish Matilda the best of luck with this campaign and we are sure she'll do UNSW proud!