Derwent fall to agonising defeat in College Varsity

reports on the Varsity men’s rugby firsts which saw Derwent College take on Durham rivals St Hild and St Bede

College Varsity 2014

Images: James Hostford

Durham’s St Hild Bede emerged victorious in Sunday’s College Varsity rugby firsts ran out 19-7 winners against a Derwent outfit that never gave up despite being severely handicapped by injuries across the back line.

In a game played in blustery conditions, Derwent were ultimately unable to match the physicality of the Hilde Bede forwards, in particular at scrum time and at the breakdown. Much of the game was dominated by forward possession with Derwent paying for a number of silly errors.
Hild Bede kicked off the match and immediately tried to prevent the Derwent attack from getting any go forward. Derwent, however, were more than up for the challenge and ventured into the Hild Bede half for an early sniff of the line. But they knocked on and Hild Bede managed to clear their lines.

A line out to Hild Bede soon followed and the men from Durham moved the ball up the field with consummate ease, their back row giving them real momentum with some excellent work in the rucks.

After Hild Bede spotted an overlap on the 22 metre, they sent the ball calmly through the hands and dived over to score the opening try, before the fly-half added the extras to make it 7-0.

Derwent responded immediately, winning a scrum just outside the opposition 22 after Hild Bede were penalised for holding on after the restart.
Hild Bede were ferocious at scrum time, smashing into the Derwent front row and causing them to win very poor quality ball, which gave the backs little time to do anything effective.

Fresher Marcus Gods looked very comfortable with ball in hand, smashing through an opposition defence twice his size on multiple occasions.
Derwent soon scored a fabulous try to make it 7-7 through a moment of pure vision from Kristian Elgheim.

Elgheim spotted space over the top of the Hild Bede defence and chipped the ball over toward the try line and Hugo Marino dived on the ball to score in the corner. Elgheim converted a tricky kick out wide to make it 7-7.

The momentum was now with Derwent and they immediately were right back in the faces of the men from Durham.

However, after Derwent lost a scrum against the head, the momentum began to swing back in favour of St Hild Bede. The Hild Bede number 8 picked the ball up off of the base of the scrum and hammered his way through the defence, breaking two tackles and causing all sorts of havoc.

This gave Hild Bede the go forward they needed and after putting the ball through several sets of hands, they were now within metres of the Derwent try line and sniffing blood.

A defensive effort of monstrous proportions kept the gate shut on Hild Bede and they were soon penalised after Derwent managed to hold them up over the line. However, Elgheim’s touch finder didn’t manage to find touch and Hild Bede got stuck right back into the Derwent defence.

Derwent managed to frustrate Hild Bede for an extended period of time, with Tom Brent putting in some great work at the breakdown, but eventually Hild Bede managed to punch their way throught the defence and score an unconverted try just before half time.

The second half continued in a similar vein, with Derwent having to put in draining shifts in defence and at the scrum against a far bigger pack.
Chris Judge had some bright moments with the ball in hand early on in the second half, as did his front row compatriot James Gibson, but Hild Bede spent most of the remainder of the match camped in the Derwent half. Rarely did Derwent manage to get any good field position.

Hild Bede sent over forward after forward to try and muscle their way through Derwent defence.

In the rare moments that Derwent were able to clear their lines, the wind worked against them and they failed to work the ball up the field. Captain Cameron Strange, who was magnificent all afternoon, was the victim of one such incident.

Hild Bede scored their third try through a careless Derwent error, however, after they committed too many men to the ruck and the Hild Bede centre simply strolled through the gap which emerged.

The try was converted and gave Hild Bede a 19-7 lead.

This effectively ended Derwent’s hopes of pulling of a win, but they did enjoy some healthy possession and good field position in the dying minutes of the game, but they were unable to score and pull off an unlikely comeback win.

Despite the brutality of the contest, the effort of the Derwent pack in particular could not be faulted and it was clear as the players walked down the tunnel that they had left everything on the pitch.

Strange, who led from the front fantastically well, spoke with Nouse
at the end of the match. “We didn’t use the wind in the first half which was our downfall.

“It was a privilege to involved in the first College Varsity and well played to Durham; they were great. Shout out to the third years like Chris Judge who were immense.”

Derwent XV: Lee, Gibson, Judge, Brent, Coulburn, Clewes, O’Reilly O’Donnell, Lywood; Strange (c), Elgheim, Pilkington, Gods, Wilson, Marino.

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