This match was a classic example of why the unwritten rule that it is the forwards that decide who wins a game of rugby is not necessarily true. Uni’s pack were immense, the back row carried well, as did Moyo Osinibi, who was outstanding in the second row, and hooker Jack Garrett; props Luke Murphy-Woolridge and Sam Chappell dominated the Trent front row in the scrum, yet Notts found themselves on the end of an agonising defeat.
Early on, Trent’s indiscretions at the breakdown were crippling them and had it not been for lack of a goal kicker, Uni may have been ahead at the break. As a result of this, Uni were forced to kick to the corner instead of taking the three points, which for much of the game did not matter because of the numerous breaks from Eitan Humphreys. He was darting through the Trent line at will and scurried over from close range to give Uni an early 5-0 lead, while around the fringes, Humphreys and Uni’s back row of Joe Williams, Owen Jackson and Captain Jack Cooper, were making great strides. However, when the ball was spread wide, Notts looked a little static, Nick Fraser spurning a great chance in the far corner after twenty minutes because of a slight hesitation that allowed the Trent defence onto him.
In contrast, Trent’s backs looked sharp, and had it not been for some ferocious Uni defence, in particular from big David Priest, Trent may have been out of sight by half time as they were efficient with what little ball they had. A neat grubber through from Trent’s outside-half that was poorly fielded by full back Rob Cleary, pinned Uni in their own twenty-two and after multiple phases, Trent fly-half broke through injured Michael Hall’s tackle to put away his winger to level at 5-5. Just before half-time, Fraser was sin-binned for having his hands in at the ruck which allowed Trent to score their second try and take a 12-5 lead into the interval.
In the second-half, Uni took the game by the scruff of the neck. The scrum was unstoppable and the back five of the scrum carried terrifically. More Trent indiscipline gave Uni a lineout five metres from the opposition line. A great driving maul ensued and Cooper flopped over for Uni’s second try. Uni’s forward ferocity was unrelenting and Osinibi powered over from fifteen metres only minutes later with at least two of Trent’s ailing XV hanging of his back. With twenty to play, Uni were in a commanding position. Uni looked relatively comfortable with the pack retaining dominance over both set pieces but failed to make use of their prolonged periods of territorial superiority.
With two minutes to play, Trent’s outside-half, on the wrap around, scythed through Uni’s defence and tried to put away the winger. Fraser slapped down the pass and the ball trickled over Uni’s try line for Trent to touch down. The game ended 17-15.
Uni were the better side; their pack at times was on a different planet to Trent’s, but lack of a goal kicker and a slickness in the back division cost them. Uni were forced at times to play ten man rugby, and were heavily reliant on Humphreys for their cutting edge. If forwards decided who won every game, Uni would have won by twenty points. It was a game decided upon very fine margins.
This result brings the Varsity Series 7-5 in our favour, with both the womens’ and mens’ football coming up on Friday night.
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