Rugby Union: NTU men secure terrific varsity comeback as women fall short

Photo by Callum Baigrie
Photo by Callum Baigrie

On a cold day at Lady Bay, the sixth and seventh installments of the 2016 Nottingham Varsity series saw both universities take victory in the women and men’s rugby union matches.

Trent 10-20 UoN

First up on a windy Sunday was the women’s game. University of Nottingham were strong favourites for the clash after finishing second in the Midlands 1A BUCS league, compared to our very own ladies who languished in 5th as their season came to an end.

Trent were quicker out of the blocks and dominated the early exchanges and within five minutes were infront after some great work from the backs. A failed attempt at a conversion followed as the wind proved a hazard for both team’s kickers all through the match.

The try from NTU seemed to wake our rivals up and before long they had drawn the game level, finally getting over the line after some big hits from the Trent forwards had kept them at bay. UoN also missed their attempt at getting another two points on the board.

The next ten minutes or so was scrappy and much of it took place in the middle of the pitch with Uni of’s forwards looking increasingly strong in the scrum.

Our ladies in pink managed to break out of the centre-field deadlock and came close more than once in a matter of minutes to getting the ball down for a try but UoN stood firm and even managed to peg Trent all the back to half way. NTU re-gained some yards before a fantastic turnover by a Uni of forward put them in the ascendancy as half time loomed.

NTU’s admirable tackling ability was on show all game and had to be spot on as UoN continuously broke through Trent’s lines on the hunt for a try which would take them into the break with a lead.

University of Nottingham failed to capitalise on their late first half pressure and they went in at the break level at 5-5 with the game in the balance.

We started the second half just as we had the first and it did not take long for NTU to regain their lead. Only a  minute or so had been played of the second half when the pinks broke through to put the ball down right between the posts. The conversion seemed easier to score than to miss but it was not to be as the third conversion in a row was unable to find its mark.

It may have been a case of getting carried away slightly because Trent fell to pieces after taking the lead. University of Nottingham piled the pressure on the NTU forwards and they finally managed to find a gap in the pink wall to make the match level again. The conversion which followed, yep you guessed it! Another miss.

From then on there only looked to be one team in this, a poor scrum from NTU gave our rivals the ball. By now, Uni of were having the better of most of the rooks and the UoN backs were using the ball extremely well as they stretched Trent’s defensive line.

It took only a few minutes for UoN to take the lead for the first time in the game (15-10) and despite yet another miss from the fly-half (her third today) they continued from where they left off prior to the try, increasing the pressure.

Trent became a woman light after a series of offences from our flanker got her a place in the sin bin and other than a single break from a Trent back, Uni of were very comfortable and wrapped the game when their very own flanker burst clear of some people in pink and the put the ball down to settle the tie. The subsequent kick was missed, a bad day at the office for both fly-halves.

This result meant the series temporarily stood at 5-1 and it was up to our men to bridge the gap.

photo by Callum Baigrie
photo by Callum Baigrie

 

Trent 20-17 UoN

Like in the women’s game, it did not take long at all for someone to take the lead and again it was a body in pink that managed to get the ball over the line for a try after a mere two minutes.

It was exactly the start NTU needed if they were to bridge the gap of the overall varsity series but like their female counterparts, they found it hard to deal with the conditions as the conversion attempt was missed.

UoN had no problem just a few minutes later however, they put the lads in pink under some heavy pressure before finally getting the ball over the line and converting the try (7-5)

Trent’s flanker, just like in the girls game was sent to the sin bin. Number 7 Charlie Wallace was cautioned for repeat infringements and conceded a penalty in the process. The penalty was easily converted from around 30 yards and it looked as though UoN would put the game out of sight before the break as they managed to break down Trent’s defence and get the ball down, again followed by a successful conversion.

mens rugby-90
photo by Callum Baigrie

Both teams came close before the half-time whistle was eventually blown and Trent had it all to do in the second half.

Anyone that had witnessed the end of the first half is likely to have been shocked by the antics of the second half at Lady Bay.

Trent managed to pull a try back after some good ball work from their backs and the first successful conversion from a player in pink meant that a single try would be enough to get us back on level terms.

UoN were sensing a comeback and produced a strong defensive display for the next ten minutes or so to keep their side ahead.

It was our winger Ayomi Obanubi who finally broke them down. A fantastic run down the right flank saw him put the ball down and despite another unsuccessful conversion, the game was now tied at 17 apiece with only ten minutes to go.

In the end, it was not a try that settled proceedings at Lady Bay. Trent won a penalty with three minutes to go. The kicker kept his head to secure the comeback and a victory for the lads in pink.

The varsity series now stands at 5-2. Can NTU make up the gap?

Matt Ball, Sports Editor

 

 

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