Southampton Uni 1st Rugby – 7 v Southampton Uni 1st Medics – 0
On a cold Saturday afternoon one of the most intense inter-university rivalries came to a head as Uni Rugby took on “the Moose” for the first time in a number of years. Just how long that wait has been is hotly debated, with some claiming that the sides haven’t met at full strength for five years, however, that was about to change as both sides admitted they would be fielding their number one teams.
Those hoping for a try fest would have been left disappointed with the bitter conditions restricting the game to a tight fought contest. Nevertheless, a large crowd braved the cold and were treated to a confrontational game with both sides showing plenty of attacking intent.
The match started at a fast pace with Wessex, who dominated the early possession, launching an attack up the middle of the pitch. Five minutes in, Wessex settled with a scrum just outside the Medics twenty-two metre line, and the following move saw Freddie Gleadowe break clean through the midfield, with the outside centre crossing underneath the posts. Andy Slade then kicked the conversion to give the Uni team an early 7 – 0 lead.
Fired up from their try, Wessex looked to take advantage of a shell shocked Medics’ side and the pressure began to show with their blindside flanker getting sin binned. Wessex managed to get a couple of penalties from difficult angles, but both went wide. It was beginning to look ominous for the Moose, but they stood strong and held out with an uncompromising defence. The medics returned to fifteen men, and the stalemate continued with neither side getting a breakthrough.
The second half team talks saw both sides come out looking to stamp their authority on the match, with numerous fierce tackles in the opening few minutes . The medics drove up the pitch and desperate to register on the score sheet, took a number of kicks at goal; however they could not quite convert their chances. The frosty conditions numbed hands and restricted the flow of the game with regular handling errors. The medics again tried to batter their way up into the Wessex quarter, but the Uni side proved calm under pressure and prevented the Moose from scoring.
The final ten minutes were frantic, with both sides knowing that a single score could sway the momentum of the match. Both teams tried to run at the opposition and Uni came close to breaking free, but had to settle for a penalty, which was again nudged wide. An unfortunate mix up under the Medics posts allowed the Wessex to regain possession with a five metre scrum. The Uni forwards slow ball couldn’t quite bundle over the white line, but they had done enough and the referee blew for fulltime, with Gleadowe’s early try and Slade’s conversion proving to be the difference.
Try scorer Freddie Gleadowe: “Credit must go to the forwards, who performed like they’ve never performed before this season…I think in the end we wanted it just that little bit more.”
Medics Team: 1.A Holden 2. C Brock 3. M Clarke 4. J Hunter 5. T Thornton 6. R Joshi 7. J Stephens 8. G Kerans 9. A Goualin 10. A Lace 11. B van Herwijnen (c) 12. R Debenham 13. B Lett 14. A Baker 15. D Pitt
Replacements: 16. G Whitley 17. C Airey 18. S Nurse 19. E Spink 20. M Dunne 21. A Ashburner 22. W Ripsher
Uni Team: 1. M Pope 2. N Moorey 3. S Coughlan 4. M Lugg 5. S Burke 6. J Shaw 7. J Bowker (c) 8. W Rowan 9. B Yirrell 10. A Slade 11. J Mitchell 12. L Powis 13. F Gleadowe 14. S Edwards 15. B Strong
Replacements: 16. O Schofield 17. H Payne 18. M Jones 19. J Tate 20. S Whealing 21. A Cooke