BUCS Super Rugby Champions Hartpury College are through to the semi-finals of the BUCS Championships after a last gasp victory over Leeds Beckett.
College showed great character to come back from eight points down in the final six minutes to clinch their spot in the last four for the sixth successive year.
Their semi-final opponents will be Bath who once again stunned Durham. The side that finished fifth in BUCS Super Rugby table beat Durham two weeks ago and repeated that feat on Tuesday to move one step closer to Twickenham.
There will be a re-run of the 2016 final in this year’s last four as Exeter take on Loughborough. The current champions Exeter eased their way past Cardiff Met in the quarter-finals while Loughborough comfortably beat Cardiff to reach the semi-finals.
In our BUCS round-up this week, we bring you up to speed with the entire goings on in our featured leagues and cups and we also take a look at the Women’s competition.
BUCS Super Rugby
Before the knockout stages, there was still the small matter of second place to be decided in BUCS Super Rugby to see which side would clinch a home quarter-final. With Hartpury having secured top spot in the division, the silver medal position was between Loughborough and Exeter.
The current BUCS champions Exeter knew that they would seal the runners-up spot if they won their game in hand against Northumbria and the Green and Whites did just that as they beat the north-east side 29-15. Added to that, full-back Ted Landray finished the BUCS Super Rugby season as the top points scorer as he accumulated 146 points from 14 matches while Tom Lawday ended the campaign as the leading try scorer with 10.
In North A, Nottingham Trent had already been crowned champions heading into the final round of fixtures and the Midlands side continued their impressive form as they ended the domestic campaign with 10 wins to their name following a 40-17 victory over Birmingham.
Second place went to Durham 2nds following a 27-25 victory over neighbours Newcastle while Loughborough 2nds ended the season in third. Leeds concluded the campaign in the top four after a 50-27 win over Newcastle while Bishops Burton finished above the north-east side in sixth place following a comprehensive 44-0 victory against Birmingham in the final North A fixture of the 2016/17 campaign.
The South A title went to the final day of the term this season and it was contested between Bristol and Cardiff. Bristol were in the driving seat and knew a win against Cardiff on the last Wednesday of the campaign would seal the championship for them.
Cardiff had a game in hand before that fixture and knew a win against Exeter 2nds would take the title race right down to the wire. The Welsh side were able to do just that as they beat the Green and Whites 15-13 on the south-coast to set-up a winner takes all clash at Cardiff.
In the end, it was Bristol who edged the title defining clash 8-0 to seal top spot, but both sides had done enough to book their places in the last 16 of the BUCS Championship.
The top five sides in BUCS Super Rugby (Hartpury College, Exeter, Loughborough, Durham and Bath) all received byes into the quarter-finals of the championships which meant there were only three last 16 ties.
Northumbria had finished the BUCS Super Rugby campaign in sixth position, but their season was ended at the first hurdle in the championship as they were beaten 30-27 by South A runners-up Cardiff.
That was to be the only upset at this stage of the competition as Cardiff Met edged out North A champions Nottingham Trent 19-12 while Leeds Beckett secured their first victory of the season as they comfortably beat Bristol 51-3 to end a 14 match losing streak.
Durham 19-20 Bath
Scrum-half Will Flinn starred as Bath came back from 19-13 down to beat Durham and book their place in the last four of the BUCS Championship.
The No.9 slotted over the crucial conversion to edge his side in front following Dan Rowland’s try in the corner.
The visitors, who won on this ground two weeks ago in BUCS Super Rugby, led 13-12 at the break thanks to a score from Connor McGrath as well as the reliable boot of birthday boy Hugo Stiles.
Durham points came via the prolific Rob Stevenson and Brodie Wilson, but despite being awarded a Penalty Try just after the interval to take the lead, the side that finished one place above Bath in the domestic season were unable to advance to the semi-finals as Bath took another step closer to Twickenham.
Bath Head of Rugby Aaron James: “We had a bit of luck at the end but we defended really well and the boys worked so hard. We said on the way here that we would have to put in a shift tonight and we did just that, I am really pleased with them.”
Hartpury College 21-19 Leeds Beckett
BUCS Super Rugby champions Hartpury College will take on Bath in next week’s semi-finals after a remarkable comeback in the last 10 minutes against Leeds Beckett.
College led this quarter-final tie 11-0 at the break thanks to a Luke Stratford try as well as six points from the boot of Sam Leeming.
After the break, Beckett were reduced to 14-men but the away side were next to score as they dotted down their first try of this last eight clash.
The Yorkshire side, who had lost all 14 of their BUCS Super Rugby matches, then went ahead as they were awarded two penalty tries to give them an eight point lead with 11 minutes remaining.
However, Hartpury proved just why they were crowned champions last month as Lewis Dennett slotted over a penalty on 74 minutes before they snatched victory right at the death thanks to a close range score.
Dennett kept his cool to convert as Hartpury booked their place in the semi-finals of the championships.
Hartpury Captain Seb Negri told the club’s website: “Fair play to the boys; we showed a lot of heart, a lot of character to bounce back. It was hard out there. We knew that Leeds were going to come and be physical and that they had a good set piece.”
Exeter 55-8 Cardiff Met
Current BUCS Champions Exeter remained on course to defend their title as they secured their place in the semi-finals following a comprehensive win over Cardiff Met.
Exeter had racked up four tries by half-time after Dom Thorne, Matt Eliet, Freddie Hosking and Tom Holdsworth all crossed while Ted Landray sent over three of his four conversions.
Hosking completed his hat-trick after the break before Ned Warne and Callum Roberts sealed the hosts’ rout.
Cardiff Met did score the final try of the game off the back of a scrum, but the current holders proved too strong for the Welsh side.
Loughborough 63-22 Cardiff
Loughborough ran in 10 tries to inflict a heavy defeat on Cardiff and secure a semi-final spot for the second successive season.
Loughborough travel to current BUCS Champions Exeter in the last four which will be a re-run of last year’s final at Twickenham.
The hosts, who had been 37-10 up at half-time, continued to run riot in the second-half as Cardiff failed to deal with the Midlands side.
Will Kaye starred for the home side, while Yiannis Loizias scored a hat-trick.
Brendon Mandivenga (2) and Rotimi Segun also crossed for Loughborough while Cardiff mustered up four tries but they could not halt and emphatic display of attacking rugby at Epinal Way.
The top three sides from North A and South A (Durham 2nds, Loughborough 2nds and Hartpury 2nds) had a bye into this week’s Vase quarter-finals while five other sides had to book their place in the last eight via the round of 16.
Leeds, who finished fourth in North A, beat King’s College 47-12 to earn their spot in the quarter-finals and there was joy for one more northern side as Nottingham earned a 51-3 victory over Exeter. Three southern clubs advance into the last eight as USW edged out Bishop Burton 26-19 while Swansea thrashed Birmingham 41-5 and UWE comfortably beat Newcastle 43-5.
There was an upset in the first last eight tie in the Vase competition as North A runners-up Durham 2nds were beaten by USW 43-27 in the north-east. The University of South Wales had finished the domestic campaign fifth in South A and are now through to the last four of this competition.
Another South A side joining them in next week’s semi-finals will be Swansea. The Welsh outfit ended the season in fourth place and secured their ninth win of the 2016-17 season as they beat Leeds 37-15 to set up an all Welsh tie against USW in six days’ time.
The other semi-final will be an all northern affair as Nottingham host Loughborough 2nds. Nottingham left it late to beat South A runners-up Hartpury 2nds 17-11 while Loughborough edged out UWE 17-16 thanks to a score in the final play of the game.
The rugby world was left shocked and saddened by the news that Cardiff Met, Wales and Great Britain player Elli Norkett tragically passed away at the end of last month. The talented individual was a rising star of the game and her presence and influence on the sport will be missed, but will never be forgotten. Everyone here at TRU would like to send their condolences to Elli’s family, friends and teammates at such a difficult time.
Her aforementioned teammates at Cardiff Met have been in action and put on a show which Elli most certainly would’ve been proud of. The current BUCS Champions reached the semi-finals of this competition after a convincing 84-0 win over Loughborough at Cardiff Arms Park.
Their opponents in the semi-finals in two weeks’ time will be Premier North A side Northumbria. This will be a repeat of last year’s final at Twickenham as the north-east side thrashed Gloucestershire 72-0 to book their place in the last four.
The other semi-final will be contested between Edinburgh and Durham. Edinburgh comfortably beat Bristol 67-5 to set-up this all northern affair while Durham secured an excellent 30-10 away win against Exeter.
North B – Edinburgh have been crowned champions despite a 15-13 loss to bottom of the table Worcester yesterday. The losing bonus-point means the Scottish club can no longer be caught.
South B – Exeter 3rds have won the South B title following a 48-6 win over second placed Bath 2nds. The Green and Whites have picked up 10 victories this term with their latest being the defining win of the campaign.
Northern 1A – Leeds Beckett 2nds won the Northern 1A championship last month following an impressive 58-10 win over Hull and they showed just why they are champions this week as they once again beat their fellow Yorkshire side. Beckett clinched their 10th straight win of the campaign to end the term unbeaten following a 45-19 win at Hull. Elsewhere, Sheffield had to settle for the silver medal spot this term while Lancaster finished bottom of the table after promotion into this division last season.
Northern 2A – Manchester Met remain top of this division, but know that they can still be caught by Liverpool. Man Met have played all 10 of their domestic games this term and currently lead the way by 13 points, but Liverpool still have three games in hand. If the club from Merseyside pick up three bonus-point wins, then the title would be heading down the M62, but it is a big ask for Liverpool.
Man Met have already beaten their title rivals to silverware this season as they secured the BUCS Northern Conference Cup yesterday after a 34-8 victory over Liverpool. Will it be the league and cup double for MMU?
Northern 2B – Sheffield Hallam were crowned champions of Northern 2B last week following their eighth victory of the campaign. They beat Northumbria 51-20 to clinch the championship ahead of Leeds Beckett 3rds who may still finish third in this division if York beat Hallam in the final fixture of this division next week.
Midlands 1A – Having won the league title a few weeks ago, Leicester completed the campaign with a 100 per cent record yesterday. Their 10th straight victory of the season was secured via a walkover result against bottom of the table Bedford meaning Leicester have dropped only two points all season.
Midlands 2A – In this division, Coventry have won the title following a 24-5 victory away at Nottingham Trent 3rds yesterday. Cov take on second placed Nottingham 4ths next week in their final game of the season knowing that the league championship has now been wrapped up for the second time in three years.
In other Midlands University rugby news, Midlands 2B side De Montfort clinched the Midlands Conference Cup yesterday thanks to a 25-11 win over Northampton.
The BUCS Trophy now has its finalists for this season and it will be an all Scottish affair as North B champions Edinburgh take on Scottish 1A winners Glasgow at the end of this month.
Edinburgh beat St Andrews and Reading to reach the final while Glasgow saw off the challenges of Leicester and Exeter 3rds who both won their respective domestic leagues.
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