Wessex Rugby take down Solent

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Southampton University Rugby team looked to avenge last semester’s loss against bitter local rivals Solent University in the last BUCS league match of the season. Whilst Wessex Rugby went into the match harbouring slim hopes of a place in the play-off’s, Solent had a very different motivation as they found themselves in an unenviable battle against relegation.

Solent University started brightly, as they regained the ball from kick-off and immediately earned a penalty, which was swiftly converted. However, it wasn’t long before Southampton registered their first points of the day, after quick ball down the back line released wing Steve Edwards, who then scored an excellent individual try as he beat three opponents down the touchline.

After taking the lead Southampton embarked on a period of domination as they sought to increase the buffer between the sides. Wessex winger J-C Thompson was the catalyst, as he broke down the right flank before chipping over the Solent fullback with centre Freddie Gleadowe on hand to collect and brush off the pursuing tacklers to score under the posts. Adam Davis completed the conversion to bring the score up to 12 – 3.

Southampton continued to pile the pressure on the Solent defence with Edwards again in the thick of it, as he found back-rower Will Rowan who drove into the Solent 22 only to find himself isolated. However, Solent were wasteful with possession and Wessex soon took control, with fly-half Davis gliding through Solent’s defensive line before straightening up and touching down. Davis added the extras himself.

The intense rivalry was on show with the action nearly boiling over at scrum time, although the match was in general well mannered. Just before half-time, Solent got the chance to close the gap with a penalty kick, however, their fly-half nudged it wide and the first half ended 19-3.

The second half was very much a scrappy affair, with both sides struggling to maintain possession for any significant period. Solent managed to drive over and close the gap, however, Southampton’s determination was on show as they charged down the attempted conversion. The final minutes proved to be frantic, with both teams looking to have the final say on the scoreline, but ultimately both defences held on. At the final whistle Southampton finished on top, with the final score 19 – 8, thanks to tries from Steve Edwards, Freddie Gleadowe and Adam Davis.

Captain James Bowker: “We’ve had a pretty strong season this year, particularly in consideration of the fact that most of the other Universities have their own coaching set-ups that join them for matches and training, whereas we are entirely student run. So to finish fourth out of eight teams is quite promising for the future.”

Bowker also looked forward to the upcoming Varsity match against Portsmouth; “It’s a big game for us as it helps us prove our worth within the university. We beat them in a pre-season friendly this year, so it will also be a great indication of the areas we have developed in over the year.”

Tries: Edwards, Gleadowe, Davis. Conversions: Davis 2

Team Sheet: 1. Michael Pope 2. Stu Mason 3. Mike Clarke 4. Matt Lugg 5. Matt Jones 6. John Shaw 7. James Bowker 8. Will Rowan 9. Ollie Schofield 10. Adam Davis 11. Jean Claude Thompson 12. Berry Yirrell 13. Freddie Gleadowe 14. Steve Edwards 15. Andrew Lace

Substitution: 16. Adam Cooke 17. Tom Edmonds 18. Stu Coughlan 19. Seb Johansson 20. James Dallimore

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