Mixed day for UoN’s Rugby Union teams at Lady Bay

UoN’s Men’s and Women’s Rugby Union sides endured a mixed day at this year’s Varsity event on a hot Monday afternoon in Lady Bay. The Men’s side were outclassed by the counterparts from Nottingham Trent in the first game, going down 55-26 before the women’s team took the Green and Gold one point closer to Varsity victory with an impressive 51-14 triumph against their city rivals.

The men’s fixture was likely to be a tough fixture for UoN, with their opponents from Trent competing in a tier above in BUCS competition, and it proved to be that way on the field as they fell 7-0 behind within the opening minutes. The Green and Gold were able to take the fight to their opponents in the stages that followed, grabbing a try of their own to cut their rivals lead to two points.

“Trent ran in four tries before half-time”

A scrappy game in the few minutes that followed gave UoN hope of a competitive game but some missed opportunities including mistakes at attacking lineouts proved costly as Trent ran in four tries before half-time, including efforts from Alex Goble and Harry Graham, that put them comfortably ahead. Raf Dutta was able to cut the deficit on the stroke of half-time though, an impressive intercept seeing the second row run in from the halfway line to make it a 33-12 lead for Trent at the break.

The second half began well for NTU, with Graham running in his second try of the afternoon from the right wing to seemingly put the game out of sight for the Green and Gold. But the side showed great resolve the rally after that score, with Graham involved again as his infringement at the driving maul saw him sent to the sin bin for ten minutes and gave UoN a penalty try.

“Trent scoring soon after to ease the pressure”

They were then reduced to 13 men with another yellow card, this time for number eight Mike Ozdili, giving the Green and Gold an opportunity to eat into the advantage of their cross-city rivals, which was taken when they went over for a score in the corner that put them within twelve points after Tom Vickers’ impressive conversion. That proved to be their final score of the afternoon however, with Trent scoring soon after to ease the pressure before another try but the result beyond doubt, to the joy of the NTU fans who spilled onto the pitch at the final whistle.

In the women’s fixture, UoN were able to produce a similarly dominant performance in their comprehensive victory. The Green and Gold had already defeated their counterparts from Trent twice this season in the BUCS league, claiming a 44-5 win at home in October before winning 27-17 away in December, and they showed that quality again in this fixture. Cat Rose opened the scoring for the side in the first stages of the game, before Jodie Dimmock converted to give the side an early 7-0 advantage.

The Green and Gold then applied the pressure in the NTU 22, for which they were eventually rewarded as second row Jade Dennett went over before Sasha Gill’s turnover led to skipper Ellie Harris scoring the third. That dominance showed no sign of relenting in the closing stages of the half, with scrum-half Anna Botting going over before a wonderful break and dummy by Harris put UoN 34-0 up at half-time and brought the Green and Gold contingent to their feet in the stands.

“It became a disjointed game”

The second half began as the first had gone on, with UoN scoring again through a penalty try after a pull-back from a Trent player cost their opponents the chance to score. From then on it became a disjointed game though, with injuries to Harris for the Green and Gold as well as some serious looking head injuries for Trent meaning long stoppages to the game in the West Bridgford sunshine.

UoN missed some opportunities when the game restarted, with a couple of knock-ons close to the line costing them a couple of try scoring opportunities. Rose was able score her second of the game though, seamlessly switching to outside-half after Harris’ injury to run a good line that put her in the corner. Following that, NTU were able to make one of their few trips to their opponents’ half count though, showing patience to go through the phases and score their first points of the game. Both sides added a further try in the final stages, Juliet Porter scoring from the back row for UoN before Trent scored the final points of the game with a converted try.

A day of contrasts then for the Green and Gold’s Rugby Union sides, with a heavy defeat for the men’s side followed by a comprehensive victory for the women’s side. The men’s side can take pride in their effort to take the game to Trent though, whilst the women’s will be delighted with their attacking display. Those results mean UoN take a 7-3 lead in the Varsity series, with a busy week of events to come.

Alex Riggs

Featured image courtesy of UoN Student’s Union

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