Images: Agatha Torrance
Goodricke were crowned champions in the College Rugby Competition with a last-gasp 10-7 win over Halifax today.
A try from James Wood in the last play of the match gave the men in green the victory, with Derwent and Alcuin also claiming the Plate and Shield respectively.
The Plate match began the day’s action, as Derwent took on Vanbrugh after both sides finished third in their groups yesterday. The outcome of the match was decided before kickoff, Vanbrugh being forced to forfeit as they could not field a full team; the match still went ahead though, with Vanbrugh borrowing three Derwent players.
Vanbrugh took an early, and fully deserved, lead through captain Chris West, who went over in the corner. And though Oliver Wessely pulled three points back shortly after, tries from Matt Pollen and Matt Thorpe made the score 15-3 at the break.
Pollen scored again after the restart, somehow bundling through a series of challenges, but Ed Kemp kept Derwent hopes alive with a superb try. Sam Asfahani, borrowed from Alcuin for the second half, grabbed a fifth Vanbrugh try, before the college league champions mounted a late fightback. Alex Sankey and Alex Cochrane Dyet both scored tries, but it wasn’t enough to keep them from being on the wrong end of a 25-18 scoreline, even though Derwent claimed the victory anyway.
West described the match as “a really good way to end the season”, while Derwent skipper Chris Judge commented that he was looking forward to taking a new Derwent squad into the XVs league next year.
The Shield match was a high-quality encounter between Alcuin and James, with Alcuin eventually running out 19-10 winners.
Will Sharp, continuing his great form from yesterday, scored the first try for Alcuin and converted it himself, but fellow University player Hugo Watson ran in one of his own before half time with a nice breakaway move.
Watson was at it again early in the second half, capitalising on some great work by Phil Scott to score and give James and 10-7 lead.
That work was undone though, by two classy tries from Joe Cooper and Fraser Kirkley, and, with a perfect conversion from Tom Chadwick for the latter, Alcuin took a deserved victory. Their captain Muzzy Foley said, “It was a bruising encounter, literally. It was a difficult match, all about stamina, endurance and the will to win, but Alcuin were all over it. That was the real final.”
In the final match of the weekend, Goodricke faced Halifax for the Cup, with Goodricke allowed to retain their position as group winners despite not having the required number of college players yesterday. The match failed to live up to the levels set by some of the others in the tournament, but still produced a thrilling late twist.
Hugh Draycott scored an early try for Goodricke after intercepting a loose pass, giving them a 5-0 lead that was taken into half time. In a scrappy affair, the persistent disappearance of the match balls into the field adjacent to 22 Acres proved a constant source of frustration for all involved.
Halifax, who produced an impressive performance to vanquish Derwent yesterday, took the advantage early in the second period. Captain Andy Cox managed to force his way over for a try, before star man Ben Turner added the extras to make the score 7-5 to the Fax.
Goodricke tried to force their way back into the game but a Halifax win was looking the most likely outcome. That was until the men in green finally made their pressure tell with the final play of the match, Wood going over to seal a dramatic victory.
Goodricke captain Chris Smith told Nouse, “I’d like to thank all the uni players for coming down and letting us field a team. The whole tournament has been great at showing that there isn’t a huge gap between uni and college rugby, and I’d like to say thanks to Sam Morrison as well for organising it all.”
Halifax’s Cox said, “I’m gutted to lose on the last play. Our college boys didn’t look out of place out there so I’m really proud of the effort this weekend.”