Exeter remain unbeaten but Northumbria run them close
THE points came thick and fast as the second round of matches opened with a thriller at Topsham on Wednesday.
Exeter pipped Northumbria in an extraordinary match that ended 53-50 – a game that will give defence coaches sleepless nights across the land. Northumbria look like a team reborn this season scoring 107 points in two games, while table toppers Exeter remain unbeaten.
Exeter lead throughout but Northumbria were always in touch. M’boge, Kelly and Linsell trys contributed to a 25-19 lead at the break with plenty to follow in the second half. Northumbria scored eight trys in total and at one stage trailed 4645 but further scores from Kelly, Linsell and Thorne married with some impeccable Landray kicking squeaked it for the Devonians.
Northumbria look like a team reborn this season scoring 107 points in two games, while table toppers Exeter remain unbeaten.
Loughborough University hosted their annual Big Game with 3,000 in attendance to welcome reigning champions Hartpury to campus, and their men in purple did not disappoint.
Hartpury started brightly with a penalty but they soon found themselves pinned back in their own half. Debutant Tom Ffitch missed a shot at goal but Loughborough maintained pressure with high tempo and dominant set piece. The men from Gloucester valiantly defended their line but when they infringed at scrum time, the referee decisively awarded a penalty try.
Hartpury soon had a chance to narrow the deficit from the tee but instead opted for the corner. Errant handling thwarted their assault and Loughborough exited efficiently.
The human juggernaut Richie Lewis battered the red defence relentlessly and Loughborough soon used this front foot momentum to skittle Ollie Adams over with the assistance of crowd favourite Musa ‘Big Muse’ Yusuff.
Ben Fry saw yellow for the visitors end the half and Ffitch compounded the home side’s superiority with a penalty to end the half 17-3 up.
The first score of the last 40 would be crucial. Again Hartpury declined kickable points and again they left the red zone empty handed. Another powerful scrum allowed sparky Jack Moates to wriggle over.
Hartpury try as they may couldn’t get their hands on the ball to build phases. Man of the match Theo Vukasinovic’s telescopic arms snaffled anything in his radius and was dynamic throughout. Quick ball and crisp hands saw Moates in for the 4th with substitute HirskyjDouglas soon following suit. Hartpury could be aggrieved at some shrewd blocking but they wouldn’t argue the result.
With both benches emptied and 20 minutes remaining Hartpury began to show a glimpse of their capabilities. Joe Mullis was impressive displaying the speed, vision and hunger his peers had been lacking. He scored one and created Daniel Openshaw’s try to leave the score 36-15.
Loughborough have certainly laid down a marker for the season ahead.
Elsewhere Cardiff Met registered their first victory overcoming Nottingham Trent 30-15 while Durham started their campaign by inflicting a second defeat on Bath 31-0.
In a landmark move Durham play their next game ‘at home’ against Exeter at Rosslyn Park.