Impact takes a look back at the first half of the 2012 Charity Varsity series, which has already produced new events, new cheerleading routines and its usual dose of heated rivalry. For those that missed the Rugby League thriller at Harvey Haddon or the punch-up at the Ice Hockey, look no further for your varsity re-cap as we prepare for the dual Rugby and Football events and the summer frolic that is Uni cricket.
There was pressure on Rugby League to revive what had so far been a disappointing season on a wet day at Harvey Haddon. This did not seem likely as Uni found themselves 12-0 down at half-time and appeared to already be running out of ideas. However, they rallied well, drawing on the advice given to them by visiting Warrington coach, Tony Smith and the crucial breakthrough came when Captain Olly Beech put Matt Hammond under the posts. In the second half, Uni benefitted from a greater willingness to spread the ball wide, with Will Meadings and Sean McManus scoring great tries to level the scores at 18-18. After wasting several chances and extra-time looming on the horizon, Meadings went over for the deciding try, sending the Uni fans into delirium and completing a stunning comeback.
The most prestigious trophy of the varsity series once again drew a sell-out crowd as the University of Nottingham Ice Hockey team fell 7-5 to Trent. Trent opened and finished the game stronger with a barrage of shots that saw Richard Griffiths concede two in the first 10 minutes, despite his goaltending deserving much more. Uni were allowed back into the game by Trent’s indiscipline and though taking far less shots, the first third finished level at 2-2. Through a strong performance in the second third, star players Jack Clarkson and Tom Griffiths exploited further Trent indiscipline with some nice two on one play. Eventually, the attacking threat of Trent ran away with the game as R. Griffiths became overwhelmed by Trent’s 22 shots to Uni’s 3 in the final third. However, Richard Soltys provided Uni with a silver lining as he proceeded to celebrate a superb consolation goal by brawling with Trent forward Ben Wood.
The Swimmers fulfilled the event’s billing as a dead-cert Uni victory when the girls team achieved a much talked about whitewash. Whilst Trent managed to get a couple of surprise wins in the men’s events, Matt Smith and Danny Anderson led the response by winning both their 50 and 100m events. The girls asserted their superiority with 1-2-3 finishes in the 50 and 100m Butterfly and Backstroke events. The relay and ‘skins’ event, a knock-out competition for 3 swimmers from each time, highlighted Uni’s greater strength in depth and fitness; Uni’s second string squad beat Trent’s 1st in both men’s and women’s relays.
Two unanswered touchdowns in the first quarter sealed a 21-4 victory for the Nottingham Trent Renegades over the Nottingham University Outlaws. With Varsity American Football typically being low scoring affairs, the Outlaws never seemed to believe they could recover from a 4th Down charge down that extended Trent’s lead to 7-0. Trent maintained their dominance and produced the score of the match as Renegades’ wide receiver Eric Moats, who has played Division 1 for Utah State, collected a floated pass to run the 30yrds into the End Zone. Uni’s scores came from two safeties, a symbol of the side’s strong defence. Yet, their offence was not up to scratch, as demonstrated by Outlaws wide receiver Ben Collis, who after sprinting 25yrds, dropped the ball when he was tackled over the goal line.
The Ladies Hockey began with both teams unable to retain possession but Uni’s technical prowess soon shone through when Katherine Baker and Celia Butler caught Trent on the break. This allowed the girls to settle into the contest and began to control proceedings, finishing the half with a third goal scored by Alice Madden. The second-half became a mere formality and Uni added one further goal, before Trent scored a consolation and finished the match 4-1. The men took to the pitch looking to emulate the girls’ performance but could only produce a first-half stalemate against a side they had twice beaten in the league. The break injected some much needed impetus into the game and Rich Lawrence gave Uni the lead from a short corner, but unperturbed Trent replied with two quick goals. After waves of pressure, Uni equalised through Richard Nourse, but could not find the winner and for the second year in a row, the game was decided by penalty flicks. With the first three flicks scored by both sides, Uni’s fourth effort was saved by the keeper and Trent remained calm to see their player Danny Crowther win the game.
In the inaugural instalment of Men’s Lacrosse, an event added in order to prevent the varsity series from being a draw for the third year running, all was to play for. The match proved to be a great advert for the sport when a high-scoring encounter ensued, with Trent narrowly leading proceedings at half-time. The game continued at a free-scoring pace as Tom Lace created goals for Dan Macken and Andy Hopkins, but the problem of stemming the flow of Trent goals continued. The game entered the fourth quarter with Trent narrowly leading but a huge effort from the team led to Uni coming out on top and Macken getting the winner to make the final score 14-13.
It then was over to the Basketball, where Uni fielded a second string side in the men’s; their first team had a fixture clash that resulted in them sacrificing the varsity fixture to ensure a BUCS league win. Despite some strong efforts from the side, particularly from Rocky and Ivan Petrov, they eventually succumbed to a respectable 74-58 defeat. In the Women’s, Uni looked to control the pace of the game and a strong defence meant that it was difficult for Trent to establish themselves at all. The Uni side reacted well to tactical changes made by Trent, showing a greater maturity than the side that lost to them earlier in the season and making the half time score of 41-19 well deserved. However, during a spirited revival in the third quarter, Trent scored unanswered points at the beginning and end, bringing the score up to 50-40. Uni held on to the impressive lead they built up in the first half and finished the game as victors at 61-54.
The final event before Easter was Netball, with the Nottingham Uni team favourite to win after a strong season that earned them the BUCS cup. After the first half, the scores were level at 20-20, a reflection of the vigilant defence from each side as Harriet Johnston and Sophie Freemantle combined to counter-attack well. While the game went into the final quarter, with the scores still level, Taryn Belcher-Brown’s move to goal attack was to make a significant impact; she inspired the front trio of Rochelle Powell, Jennifer Catlow and herself to extend their lead, the game finishing 46-38 to Uni.
So Uni lead the series 6-4 with only 5 points left up for grabs; make sure you support your athletes in the remaining fixtures.
Peter Klein, Tom Mellor, Ashley Cooke, Ollie Taylor, Jake Batty
For pictures of our Varsity series so far, like our Facebook page, ‘Impact Covers Nottingham Varsity 2012’.