HES EAST WERE defeated 10-31 by University College in the men’s rugby union B fixture which provided supporters lining 22 acres with an action-packed start to Varsity which included a pitch change part way through the second half.
There was an electric start to the highly-anticipated game. Hes East, disappointed not to be participating in the A match, wasted no time as they scored their first try after just 3 minutes of play, finding a route through the middle of a University defence slow to get into the game.
However, University crushed any momentum gained as they responded with a 3-point penalty and a converted try of their own minutes later to edge into the lead – a position from which they would not be displaced. University cemented their lead just before half-time with a converted try to make it 17-5.
The unrelenting presence of end-to-end play continued in the second half. Hes East got a try shortly after the restart, again cutting through the middle of University after an extended period of pressure on their backline. They failed to convert it, but University’s lead was now looking not so decisive. But, in the same manner as the first-half, Hes East couldn’t prevent University from responding minutes later as they scored another penalty.
The high-intensity play continued until a nasty injury to one of Hes East’s players 25 minutes into the second half. A side which lost their top try scorer to injury during qualifiers weekend were experiencing more injury problems to compound the scoreline. A shoulder to the back of the head and neck following a ruck left the Hes East player in a concussed state and play was resumed after a lengthy stoppage and a pitch change.
Despite the stoppage threatening to kill University’s momentum, they extended their lead further with another converted try to put themselves in an unassailable position with 15 minutes left.
Hes East did respond with a free-flowing counter-attacking move, by far the best of the match, which looked to finish with a try after some strong running; but the referee waved it away after it looked like the ball hadn’t quite crossed the line.
The last 10 minutes of the game were characterised by more heavy University pressure on Hes East’s backline which was enough to see the game out and add to the Durham resurgence on the overall Varsity points board.