Three events into the 2009 Varsity Series and Nottingham University have taken an early lead. A loss in rugby league was countered by victories in swimming and ice hockey to take Uni 2-1 ahead:

Swimming

On a bright and sunny day, Nottingham University and Nottingham Trent took to the swimming pool as the two teams kicked off the Varsity Series 2009. The tone was set for the whole series when before the event even started Trent fans made their feelings clear by ripping up a Uni banner that had found its way into the Trent section.

In the men’s event, Uni were utterly dominant, starting off with a 1-2-3 finish in the 100m Individual Medley, a feat they repeated twice later in the day. The Uni men produced an almost flawless display, with a 9-2 victory in their events.

The women’s event was a much closer call with races going each way. Ultimately, Trent claimed a marginal 6-5 victory, restoring some pride after the men’s comprehensive defeat.

The stage was set for the day’s final event, the mixed squadron match up. It was not long before the event descended into farce with almost every member of the squad in the pool at the same time. Both sides’ fans revelled in this light-hearted conclusion to a good spirited and enjoyable afternoon.

It was Uni who claimed victory in the final event and an overall victory with a score of 363 points to 226, making a perfect start to the 2009 series.

Rugby League

In a great game played in driving wind, torrential rain and hail, Trent defeated Uni by a slender 18-10. Bad discipline hampered Uni with a sin binning for Joe Scott and too many careless penalties given away.

Trent scored first, but Uni replied before half time with quick hands allowing Steve Cunningham to score in the corner, making it 4-4 at half-time. After half-time, Trent ran in two quick tries, punishing Uni for their ill-discipline. A superb solo-run from Jack Miller resulted in Uni’s second try, whilst Captain Ed Radcliffe slotted the goal to bring the score within touching distance. A late Trent try, however, sealed Uni’s fate in a game in which no player can be criticized for a lack of effort. A few near misses for Uni could have made a huge difference with both Ben White and Tom Cliffe going close, the latter was judged to be held up over the line by the referee.

For Nottingham University the forwards never gave in, with Tom Cliffe and Chris Boobier the stand out performers. However, the plaudits must go to man of the match, Shaun McManus, a new player to the side this year. In the end, Trent prevailed as a more organized team, able to control the ‘play the ball’ more effectively and less susceptible to giving away needless penalties.

Ice Hockey

In a frenzied affair at the Trent FM Arena, Nottingham University thrashed Trent 6-1 in an impressive victory. The packed out stadium was treated to goals, fights and sin bins galore as Uni routed their Trent counterparts.

The match began at a frenetic pace with Trent going closest, but as would be the case throughout the match, the Uni keeper (the outstanding Michael Snook) was equal to everything Trent could throw at him. Then, with the first third coming to a close, Uni took the lead through an outstanding individual effort from Tom Griffiths.

Uni doubled their lead before Trent pulled one back after 34 minutes, setting up what promised to be a tense conclusion to the match. However, this proved not to be the case as Uni set about pulverizing their opponents. Only two minutes after Trent’s goal, Uni restored their two point lead, and later added another, seeing to be toying with their beaten opponents.

The final third saw Uni add two more to their impressive total while Trent’s performance became little more than an ill disciplined shambles. Multiple sin binnings deprived Trent of key players; after 55 minutes there was a brief absurd moment when Trent had 3 of their 5 outfielders consigned to the sin bin. In the final minute both teams became embroiled in a mass fight, leaving the crowd with the perfect entertaining finish to a hugely enjoyable evening.

By Charlie Eccleshare and Max McLaren

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