BUCS Championship Cup Quarter Final Round Up: Exeter and Hartpury cruise into semi-finals, Leeds Beckett are pushed all the way by Bath, and Tom James inspires Loughborough.
With the domestic leagues over for the Premier North and South divisions for another year, attention has now turned to the BUCS Championship Cup. The top four teams from each league go head-to-head to reach the final at Twickenham on March 27th.
This week was the quarter—final stage where we saw three Southern universities progress into the last four, with Leeds Beckett being the only side from the North to advance. Here is the round-up of all the action.
Talking Rugby Union’s feature game was Leeds Beckett’s home tie against Bath and what a very entertaining game it was in Yorkshire. The Premier North A Champions won this clash 42-22, but it wasn’t as convincing as the score-line suggests. Marcus Beer’s try for Bath got them off to a great start, but they could not make the most of their territory for the rest of the half.
A push over try gave Leeds the lead and when Bath prop Greg Palmer was yellow carded for infringements at the scrum, Leeds took advantage.
Dan Grange went over to give his side a narrow 14-5 lead at the break, despite a very good first half display from the visitors.
Leeds improved further in the second and half and were rewarded when Ali Johnston crossed after super set up play by Will Cargill.
Bath weren’t going to lie down though and kept reducing the deficit throughout the second period andwhen they pushed over a try from a maul to make the score 21-10, this game was well and truly still on.
Beckett looked strong up front all game with Man of the Match Sam Rodman at the heart of everything and they responded with a rolling maul try of their own to increase their lead.
Beckett’s Dan Leake was then sin binned for a deliberate knock-on and it was Bath’s turn to take advantage of the extra man.
A quick tap penalty saw them score under the posts for make the score 28-17 and with 10 minutes to go, they reduced the gap to just five points when Zach Henry went over after patient build up play.
Leeds then decided to put the hammer down and for the first time in the game got away from their opponents as tries from Sam Brady and Lewis Jones sealed Beckett’s place in the last four of this year’s competition.
Leeds Beckett will have a home semi-final against last year’s winners Hartpury which will also be a re-run of the 2014 final. Hartpury saw off Durham 38-14 on Wednesday to begin their defence of this trophy.
First half tries from Rob Fuller, Alex Brown and Alex O’Merea gave them a 22-14 lead with Durham flanker Brodie and replacement winger Porter dotting down for the visitorsPury then took full control in the second half as Brown got his second of the game and produced some excellent play for Hartpury’s fifth try which was scored by Mark Harrison. Kyle Frowen rounded off proceedings to book their semi-final place.
Hartpury’s Alex Brown: “To beat a strong Durham team by that margin is a great result and the boys are very happy. We're confident that we can go all the way again. Obviously Leeds will be a massive game and you've got to take it game by game. We can't afford to think too far ahead, all our focus will be on beating Leeds They're a good side and their results reflect that. We know it's going to be a good test but our confidence is sky high after beating Durham convincingly.”.
In the other half of the draw, Premier South Champions Exeter are finding their form at the right time as they beat Northumbria 52-31. The hosts found themselves 21-0 up after just 15 minutes and as the clock kept ticking the score kept growing and they led 40-10 at half-time.
Northumbria could only manage a converted try after the break as Exeter added another 12 points to comfortably advance to the semi-finals next week.
Their opponents will be Loughborough who came from behind to beat Cardiff University 26-15. The hosts were 10-12 behind at the break, but Tom James produced a captain’s performance to score 19 points in the win, including four penalties and a great solo try.
James gave Loughborough the early lead with a penalty, but Cardiff levelled as Ross Preedy matched James’ kick. Preedy then kicked three more penalties, but that was to be the only source of points all afternoon for the Welsh side. Loughborough’s Gair Currie went over under the posts just before half-time.
Loughborough then retook the lead in the second half as James slotted over three penalties to give his side a 19-12 lead. Preedy made it four from four for the visitors, but Loughborough then put their foot down. James produced a moment of magic as he dummied and stepped his way through the defence to out-sprint the full back. Having injured himself with his swallow dive celebration, the duty of adding the extras fell to replacement Ollie Williams to seal the 26-15 win.
Exeter v Loughborough – 1pm
Leeds Beckett v Hartpury 2pm