After an enthralling opening round, BUCS Super Rugby has continued to show why it is one of the most exciting leagues around, with an enormous 321 points being tallied this week.
Two-time championship winners Exeter University put in another excellent display as they travelled up north to take on Nottingham University.
The hosts got off to the perfect start with a try in the second minute, but Exeter gave them no time to enjoy their lead as they quickly went on to score 36 unanswered points, with the clash finishing 48-12 in favour of the visitors.
Speaking after the game, Exeter prop Archie Owlett believes the squad is in very good shape already this season: "I think the Saturday league games [National Two West] leading into BUCS have been a really good platform for the boys to come together and we have a very good understanding of our game plan and what we want to achieve,” said the front-rower.
They have certainly had a strong start to life in National Two West, winning five games on the trot, and Owlett is pleased this form has translated into the BSR season.
"The Hartpury game was very enjoyable and the conditions meant we had to adapt to being on the back foot in the second half. We were really pleased with our endurance and our ability to be able to work hard until the final whistle.
"The Nottingham game was an excellent example of us building in the season, and winning the away games certainly have a big impact for the boys. Everything kind of came together with our pack and set-piece really clicking, which allowed the backs to play some fast-flowing rugby."
After winning two BSR championship titles in his first two years at the university - and being capped for England Students - Owlett has had no shortage of success since arriving in Devon. However, he insists the squad aren’t getting ahead of themselves with dreams of a three-peat.
"In terms of the treble, it’s very early days and the general feeling amongst the group is to play it game by game. At the minute, we are just focused on getting 5 points each game, whether that’s home or away. The risk of getting complacent is an extremely important factor, and we don’t want to take too big of a stride too early on."
Elsewhere in BUCS Super Rugby, Bath University travelled to Loughborough in a repeat of last year’s semi-final, with the visitors seeking revenge and also looking to bounce back from their loss to Durham a week ago
Aaron James' troops got off to a flying start, and a try just before the break saw them go into the sheds with a 17-12 lead
But a ruthless beginning to the second half from Loughborough, with Joel Plunkett completing his hat-trick, saw the African Violet storm to a 43-30 win in front of a packed out home crowd.
Arms Park played host to the highly anticipated Cardiff clash with Cardiff Met University putting in an empathic performance to down their rivals 50-28.
Despite Cardiff University scoring two tries either side of half-time, the Archers' impressive attack proved too much. With the bonus point wrapped up within 40 minutes, Met continued to apply the pressure in the second period. A try from Jake Thomas and a hat-trick from Steff Crimp capped off a great performance.
Hartpury University collected their first win of the season against Swansea University and bounced back well after their narrow defeat to Exeter last week. A 36-26 victory saw them finish the game with all five points.
Despite picking up a try bonus point, Swansea will be disappointed with a second defeat on the bounce. Although it is early days, they will need to start grinding out some wins if they want to make the playoffs - something they failed to achieve last year
In the battle of the North, Durham University took on Leeds Beckett University, with Leeds looking for their first BUCS Super Rugby win in 10 months.
Congratulations to Fitz Harding on being named club captain of Bristol Bears at the age of 24. Not bad for someone who started off in the 5th XV ???? https://t.co/ZAm9OylfaV— Durham University RFC (@DURFC) October 4, 2023
However, Durham silenced the home crowd by racing into a 20-7 lead, before a composed second half led them to a 34-14 victory.
The Palantinates will be hoping there is another player of Fitz Harding’s quality in their midst, with the former student recently being announced as Bristol Bears' club captain for the upcoming season.
Cardiff Met completed the Arms Park double over their next-door neighbours, with an equally emphatic performance. For the second week in a row, Lisa Newton's side were extremely prolific, and Cardiff University didn’t have the answers, with the game finishing 53-8 to the league leaders.
After suffering a heavy defeat last week, Edinburgh University bounced back very impressively against Durham.
The hosts scored 50 unanswered points, and four tries either side of half-time. Some impressive goal-kicking from Lucy McRae saw them get their season off the mark in a match that finished 50-5.
The final game of the Women’s National League this week was certainly a highly anticipated clash, as Exeter University took the short trip up to Hartpury University in a repeat of last year’s final.
The result looked to be heading the hosts’ way as they went into the break with a 17-0 lead. However, Exeter must have been inspired at half-time as they came out the blocks absolutely firing.
A try from Evie Butcher on top of braces from Harriette Bond and Connie Clark saw the visitors pull off a superb comeback to win the game 31-24, a result that undoubtedly will have given Exeter a taste of revenge.