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Rugby finals 2017
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Edinburgh and Hartpury take BUCS Rugby Union spoils at Twickenham 31/03/2017

On Thursday 30 March, BUCS’ Rugby Union Championship competition came to a head at the home of rugby, Twickenham Stadium. In the women’s fixture, University of Edinburgh faced last year’s runners-up Northumbria University and in the men’s fixture, reigning champions, University of Exeter played Hartpury College.

Women’s final – 15:00

University of Edinburgh produce astonishing display at Twickneham stadium to beat Northumbria University in the women’s BUCS Rugby Union Championship final.

Prior to kick-off, the two women’s BUCS Rugby Championship finalists, accompanied by the Twickenham crowd and the men’s finalists, came together for a moment’s applause to celebrate the life of Cardiff Metropolitan University student and Welsh international rugby player, Elli Norkett. Elli sadly lost her life in a car accident on 25 February 2017.

In the match’s opening stages, Megan Gaffney, Edinburgh’s number 13 got just a few yards shy of Northumbria’s try line with a splitting run. A strong tackle was all that stopped Edinburgh going over within the match’s first five minutes. The ball was turned over from the resulting line out. 

Northumbria were pinned back in the first five minutes of the match, with most of the rugby being played deep in their half as Edinburgh started the final with real purpose. A scrum was awarded to Edinburgh just five metres from Northumbria’s try line, they got the ball out and made a charge for the line. Eventually, Edinburgh’s Scottish international, Katie Dougan found the line making it 5-0 to Edinburgh – the resulting conversion was missed.

After going behind early, Northumbria were after a quick reaction. But the second ten minutes of the game were much like the first, Edinburgh breaking through Nothumbria’s defence using their pace at every opportunity. Before long, Edinburgh’s speedster, Megan Gaffney went over for their second try in the corner – Edinburgh doubled their lead to 10-0, with the resulting conversion missed.

This time, Northumbria reacted to the Edinbrugh’s try. For the first time in the match Edinburgh were forced to defend. Northumbria exchanged passes 10 metres from Edinburgh’s try line before an unforced error gifted Edinburgh possession. Edinburgh kept hold of their lead going into the final ten minutes of the first half.

Another Edinburgh breakaway ensued at 35 minutes through Megan Gaffney, again, who offloaded to Elizabeth Musgrove before a hefty Northumbria tackle stopped Edinburgh in their tracks.

Edinburgh held their 10-point lead into the break – leaving last year’s finalists with a lot of work to do in the second half if they’re to make it second time lucky.

Edinburgh came close to extending their lead in the 47th minute, as they offloaded the ball quickly before another last ditch tackle stopped them going over in the corner.

Edinburgh’s speed on the wings was proving difficult for Northumbria to deal with, and they paid the price on 50 minutes. Scottish international, Rhona Lloyd showed a clean pair of heels to three Northumbria players before going over in the corner.

Just a few minutes later, Rhona Lloyd went over for her second try of the match. Elizabeth Musgrove with a 50-metre run before coolly offloading to Lloyd as she was met by a Northumbria defender.

The resulting conversion was scored by the Edinburgh skipper, Sarah Law giving them a dominant 22-0 lead over Northumbria.

Powering through again in the 64th minute was Edinburgh’s Megan Gaffney – her blistering pace was becoming too much for Northumbria and she went over just a few metres left of the posts. With a second conversion in a row for Sarah Law, the Scottish outfit found themselves 29-0 up.

Shortly after, Edinburgh added two more tries with two successful conversions. The first through Amy Walter, and the second through Rhona Lloyd – marking a hat-trick of try’s for the latter.

With ten minutes on the clock, Edinburgh had built a 43-0 lead.

On 75-minutes, Megan Gaffney added insult to Northumbria’s injury as she also completed her hat-trick of try's. The resulting conversion missed, but Edinburgh sailed to a 48-0 lead.

In the final minute, Northumbria ensured they were on the scoresheet with a late try. The final score was 48-5 as Edinburgh won the BUCS Rugby Championship spoils.

POTM – Megan Gaffney (Edinburgh)

 

Men’s final – 17:30

BUCS Super Rugby Champions, Hartpury College overcame a tough University of Exeter side to lift the prestigious BUCS Rugby Union Championship trophy.

BUCS Super Rugby champions, Hartpury College lined up in the Twickenham tunnel against reigning champions University of Exeter. The fans came in their coach loads for both finalists and were in full voice from the opening minute of the final. 

Within the first 10 minutes, Exeter were the first on the scoresheet as Aaron Bagwell went over under the posts, leaving a simple conversion for the BUCS Super Rugby top points scorer, Ted Landra! 7-0 they led in the early stages.

Both sides were mounting slow, strong attacks after Exeter’s early try, but the defensive outfits of both team were looking up for the Twickenham task.

Hartpury recorded their first points of the fixture through the third highest BUCS Super Rugby points scorer, Sam Leeming as he kicked a 35-yard penalty from a tricky angle.

Exeter showed some nifty handwork in the centre of the park – quick offloading as they looked for a gap in Hartpury’s defensive line. Eventually, they gained enough territory and force a ruck over Hartpury’s try line. Matt Eliet the man who put it down, with Ted Landray again converting – 14-3 in Exeter’s favour. 

At 36 minutes, Hartpury’s Sam Leeming broke through the centre of the pitch before an outstanding last ditch tackle stopped him scoring what would have been an excellent try. But, on the stroke of half-time, Hartpury did get a try of their own through Maliq Holden. Sam Leeming’s conversion went over, and the score at half-time was: Exeter 14-10 Hartpury.

The second half started as the first finished – lots of kicking from one back line to the other. Battles continued in the middle of the field, with no side showing chinks in their defensive armour.

In the 48th minute, try scorer Maliq Holden was shown a yellow card and sent to the sin bin – Hartpury conceded from the resulting penalty and had to play the next 10 minutes with 14 men. Exeter extended their lead to 17-10.

Despite being a man down, Hartpury mounted a dangerous attack at the 49-minute mark and scored in the corner through Jonus Mikalcius. Sam Leeming again nailed the conversion to make things all-square – 17-17. 

Hartpury had the chance to go ahead for the first time in the match in the 54th minute, but Sam Leeming, on this occasion, missed the penalty uncharacteristically.

A huge blow for Hartpury followed shortly after the penalty miss, their captain, Seb Negri was stretchered off with an injury and would play no further part in the final. His replacement was their number 17, Joe Wrafter.

Hartpury’s continued pressure saw them break through via England U20 international Harry Randall’s quick feet. He went over in the corner after sidestepping the last Exeter defender, but this time Sam Leeming couldn’t convert. Hartpury took a 22-17 lead.

Just a few minutes later, Harry Randall had his second. This time around, it was inch-by-inch attacking that saw them battling just two metres from Hartpury’s try line. Randall was the man to bundle it over the line to give Hartpury a 27-17 lead. Sam Leeming missed the resulting conversion.

With 10 minutes on the clock, Exeter were looking for a big reaction if they wanted to retain their BUCS Championship title. And a reaction they got. On 76 minutes, Callum Roberts went over, and BUCS Super Rugby top point scorer, Ted Landray did what he does best in scoring the conversion. With just a few minutes left on the clock it was Hartpury 27-24 Exeter.

Exeter gave it one last passionate push, but it was Hartpury who held out until the end to seal the BUCS Rugby Union Championship to accompany their BUCS Super Rugby League title!

Player of the match: Harry Randall (Hartpury)

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