Exeter react, Hartpury one step closer and Loughborough surge continues

Loughborough's Women's National League side have defeated both of last year's finalists in recent weeks

After a day of Valentine's thrillers in Round 15 and an equally exciting set of fixtures in Round 14, both BUCS Super Rugby and the Women's National League are set up for an enthralling last few gameweeks, with many sides still in the hunt for glory.

Durham University were handed a shock home defeat by Cardiff Met University in Round 13, but they bounced back last week with an incredible 42-36 victory over league leaders Exeter University. A try in the final minute of the game secured them all five points in a match that provided endless entertainment.

This week they welcomed last year’s other finalists, Loughborough University, to Hollow Drift in a clash dictated by the weather. The Midlands side were looking to build on their 38-21 victory over Leeds Beckett University last time out.

A wet and windy North East didn’t allow for an expansive game of rugby, but the two sides battled it out and ended the 80 minutes honours even at 15-15 with Durham now sitting third in the table, two points ahead of their opponents.

After losing to Loughborough last week, Leeds Beckett would be hoping to get back to winning ways as they welcomed a struggling Nottingham University side to Yorkshire who were fresh off a defeat to Cardiff Met.

However, an impressive first half from Nottingham raced them into a 21-0 lead and they were able to hold out to secure a much-needed 28-24 victory.

Hartpury University have been the team with the most impressive BSR form in the past few months and they seem to be hitting all the right notes at the perfect time in the season.

Round 14 saw them dismantle their South West neighbours Bath University 53-36, whilst this week they travelled to Cyncoed campus and secured a gritty 22-17 victory against Cardiff Met.

Their winning streak has now been extended to eight games and they sit five points clear of third-placed Loughborough. This defeat takes Cardiff Met to fifth, with Danny Milton’s side looking to make a late push for a home quarter-final over the next few weeks.

Despite conceding over 50 points against Hartpury, Bath University still put on an impressive attacking display in that game, and this week they replicated that. The boys in blue and gold led by one point at half-time against Swansea University, but their free-flowing brand of rugby proved too much for the Welsh side who were defeated 50-40 in this high-scoring encounter.

Swansea University also lost to Cardiff University last week meaning they now sit rock bottom of the BSR table and they will need a change of fortune in the last few weeks of the campaign if they are to make the play-offs.

Cardiff University came into this week’s Anglo-Welsh clash against Exeter University on the back of a rare win, whilst the Devonians entered the fixture having suffered a rare loss.

Coming away from Sandy Park with a victory has been seldom in recent seasons, but a feat Cardiff managed to achieve last year. However, history was not to repeat itself as Exeter’s power proved too much for the Welsh side to handle and the league leaders secured a 32-14 win along with five valuable points.

This extends their lead over Hartpury at the top of the table to nine points as they close in on that coveted league trophy. Below them, only seven points separates third and sixth meaning it is all to play for for those sides looking to achieve a home quarter-final.

BSR takes a break next week, but there remains plenty of room for more drama in the rest of this campaign.

Women’s National League

Last week saw just one game take place as Loughborough University travelled to Hartpury University, with the visitors looking to hand the back-to-back national champions their first defeat since Round 2.

A monumental display by the African Violet saw them secure a 29-17 victory and move them further up the table.

This week, Loughborough looked to build on that impressive performance and take down another big scalp as they welcomed Exeter University to the Midlands. The hosts showed no sign of nerves and they defeated Exeter 31-19, a result that moves them to second in the table.

Meanwhile, Harptury looked to get back to winning ways as they made the long trip up to Durham University. The reigning champions were ruthless and collected a 79-5 win - a victory that all but secures them the league title once more as they sit 10 points clear with two games to play.

Exeter University and Cardiff Met University both sit on 35 points with two games remaining whilst Loughborough University are on 36 points with only one match left, making that race for a home semi-final an extremely exciting prospect.