MATCH REPORT: Exceptional second half display sends Exeter to Twickenham 16/03/2017
Exeter welcomed Loughborough to Topsham for the second time this season in the BUCS Rugby Championship semi-final yesterday. With a win a piece this season, both teams have certainly proved they deserve a spot in this year’s final at Twickenham.
Match report from Exeter Student Sport
Exeter got the game underway with a long kick downfield into the Loughborough 22’, a good kick chase from Exeter’s Warne almost sore the home side retain possession but a good take in the air from the Loughborough second row saw them control the ball and exit well. After a short spell in possession for the home side both teams turned to the boot in an exchange of kicks searching for that much-needed field position. The Loughborough centre half pairing testing the Exeter full back repeatedly but to no avail as Wicks exited well.
The pressure was building on the home side, 3 lineouts in the opening 5 minutes were all stolen by the Loughborough defence making it a difficult start for the Exeter hooker. A penalty in the scrum put the visitors inside the Exeter 22’ and a clever set piece move saw Kaye and Loizias link up and the Loughborough winger going over in the corner. Dixon slotting the conversion from a difficult touch line kick.
Exeter responded well and soon found themselves adding points to the scoreboard, the Loughborough hooker not rolling away in the tackle and Landray taking the 3 points in front of the posts, 3-7.
From the restart Exeter were once again on the front food. A long kick from Landray and a mix up between Mandivenga and Kaye at the back, saw the ball bounce only for Skinner to dive on top of the ball and regain possession in the Loughborough 22’. The resulting phases from the forwards were rewarded when the Exeter winger Warne crossed the line for the try. Landray unable to add the extra points.
The try didn’t appear to phase the visitors and it wasn’t long before Loughborough had Exeter pinned on their 5m line. Strong carries from the Loughborough forwards created the opening for Luke Frost to pick up the ball from the tail of the ruck and dive through the gap and over for their second try. The conversion going over and putting the visitors back on top, 8-14.
The tempo of the game wasn’t slowing down and it was Exeter adding to the scoreboard next. A show and go from McRae sent the Loughborough winger walking and a great turn of pace from the Exeter back rower saw him race through and go in just to the left of the posts. Landray slotting the resulting conversion, 16-14.
Loughborough responded with a try of their own. A great individual effort from Edwards worthy of his England 7s call up saw him duck under two tackles and step the Exeter full back going in under the posts.
With a minute left on the board and Exeter chasing the lead, the home side were rewarded with a penalty when the Loughborough 8 played the ball off his feet. Exeter chose to kick for the corner and back their line out drive. A good push got the momentum going and Lawday at the tail of the maul going over and adding to his impressive season try tally. The kick going wide and taking the half time score to 21-21.
The second half continued at a frantic pace. The Exeter kick chase was working well and helping them win the overall territory battle. A silly error in the ruck gave Landray the chance to get the scoreboard ticking and put Exeter back in front for the second time in the match.
Exeter didn’t let off steam. Regaining possession after the restart the home sides fitness was beginning to show. A good carry from the big second row Fred Hosking, was latched on to by Rhodes and Eliet taking the home side to the Loughborough 5m. Bagwell releasing Mcrae on the hard line who powered through for his 2nd try of the match. Landray adding the conversion and taking the score to 31-21.
Loughborough were beginning to tire. A couple of mistakes coming from kicks saw Exeter maintaining field position and keeping the pressure on the visitors. A line out on the Loughborough 5m provided the perfect opportunity for Exeter to set up the driving maul and the home side were once again rewarded with the try, Lawday putting the ball down for his second try and Landray adding the extras.
A mistake off the restart return saw Exeter pinned inside their 22. A knock on in the line out resulting in a scrum on the Exeter 5m for the visitors. A contested scrum appeared to be going the way of Loughborough, and back to back penalties gave the referee no option but to award the penalty try and put the visitors back in the game with 20 minutes left to play.
However, it took Exeter just 2 minutes to respond, a good restart saw the boys in green gather possession on the Loughborough 22 and the resulting penalty setting up the line out on the 5m. Loughborough tried to sack the resulting maul before it picked up steam but to no effect, a penalty coming for illegal side entry and a quick tap and go catching the defence sleeping and Lawday cruising over for an easy 3rd try.
Further mistakes in the Loughborough game were enough to keep the visitors out of reach. A penalty once again in the midfield allowed for Exeter to kick to the corner and set up the line out on the 5m. The line out drive proving once again to much for the Loughborough pack. Jack Owlett being rewarded with the try as the big Exeter prop peeled off the maul and drove in at the corner, 48-28.
Exeter had one last chance to put points on the board. With time off, and the game over, Landray slotted the ball through the posts to make it a 50 point game and bring a close to the match 51-28.
Exeter go on to face Hartpury at Twickenham in a chance to retain their 2016 BUCS championship title. With both teams winning a game each in the league this year its set to be an impressive spectacle.
1 Elliot Roofe, 2 Callum Young, 3 Jack Owlett, 4 Simon Linsell (C), 5 Sam Skinner, 6 James McRae, 7 Matt Eliet, 8 Tom Lawday, 9 Aaron Bagwell, 10 Ted Landray, 11 Ned Warne, 12 Chris Swash, 13 Tom Holdsworth, 14 Dom Thorne, 15 Charlie Wicks
1 Jonah Boyce, 2 Isaac Miller, 3 George Davis, 4 James Lasis, 5 Theo Vukasinovic, 6 Conor Gracey, 7 Andrew Boyce, 8 Luke Frost, 9 George De Cothi, 10 Mark Dixon, 11 Brendon Mandivenga, 12 Gair Currie, 13 Rotimi Segun, 14 Yiannis Loizias, 15 Will Kaye
Exeter: Warne (16”), McRae (29”, 51”), Lawday (40”, 56”, 63”), Owlett (69”)
Loughborough: Loizias (9”), Frost (25”), Edwards (35”), PT (61”)