A dramatic late try from Andreas Robertson gave Nottingham Trent University a vital 17-15 win in their must win Rugby Union Varsity match against the University of Nottingham (UoN).
After UoN won the earlier women’s game, Trent were 7-4 down in the Charity Varsity series with four events to go, meaning the Trent men’s team had to win for NTU to have any chance of emerging from the series victorious.
The team headed into the game low in confidence though, after a disappointing season saw them lose all their BUCS league encounters, with UoN the in-form team, after winning their respective league.
This showed in the early stages, with UoN getting the early foothold in the game. Their first chance for points came after six minutes, however Michael Hall missed the penalty. They made amends three minutes later, Ethan Humphreys bursting through a gap in the Trent defence to score the first try. Hall was unable to put the conversion through the posts, leaving it at 5-0 to UoN.
Trent got their first spell of possession in the game just after the ten minute mark, and got the ball across the goal line, however Kieran Morris was pushed into touch just as he grounded the ball.
NTU came back straight back at the UoN defence though, and two minutes later the match was equal, Greg Lounds storming through a tackle and popping the ball out wide to Morris, who this time was able to get the ball down in the corner to make it 5-5, with Lounds missing the following conversion.
Trent looked to build on their try, but UoN quickly regained control of the game. They produced three great chances for tries in the middle of the second half, however the first was squandered when the winger dropped the ball, before a knock on and some great defending from Trent stopped the other two.
UoN looked the most likely to score a second try and Trent were struggling to hold them off, however it all changed when Uni of’s Nick O’Fraser was sin-binned for a professional foul, leaving them with fourteen men for the final three minutes of the half.
Trent immediately took advantage, a strong scrum leading to a great driving maul, with the team forcing their way over the line for the try, with Lounds converting it to give Trent a 12-5 half time lead.
With UoN still down to ten men for the first seven minutes of the second half, Trent had a great opportunity to try and extend their lead early on, however they were unable to capitalise.
The pendulum swung back in their opponents’ favour ten minutes into the second half, when it was the turn of Trent to have a player sin-binned, with Romey Vassell given the yellow card for a late tackle.
UoN seized on the opportunity to grab a couple of tries in quick succession, both coming from superb rolling mauls by their forwards. Neither were converted though, meaning it was just 15-12 to UoN with twenty minutes to go.
The game got scrappy and disjointed as both teams pushed for what could be a decisive try. UoN had possession as the game headed into its final five minutes; however some great defence from Trent saw them grab possession. They stormed forward, with Greg Lounds bursting clear, however he was tackled by the UoN defence. The ball popped clear and bounced across the goal line, with substitute Robertson diving onto the loose ball to score the try; the Trent Army erupting in celebration.
After a nervy final few minutes, Trent kicked the ball into touch to seal a dramatic win in front of the jubilant Trent crowd. The win makes it 7-5 in the series with three to go, keeping Trent’s dream of varsity glory alive.
The Varsity series continues on Friday with a return to Meadow Lane for the men’s and women’s football matches. Keep up to date live with both on Twitter @PlatformOnline, and match reports online!
*Pictures to follow*