The first champions from our selected BUCS teams have been crowned this week as Loughborough secured themselves top spot in the league after victory over Northumbria.
Second placed Leeds Beckett are now seven points behind the Midlands side and only one game remaining meaning their league title has now official been wrestled off them.
Further down the country, the title race is still well and truly on between Hartpury College and Exeter after their cagey draw this week while Bristol’s hopes of a finals spot still remain.
Elsewhere across our coverage of BUCS, Durham 3rds suffered their first defeat of the season in Northern 1A while the fight for survival in Premier North B is starting to heat up. Lancaster remain on course for promotion after making it six from six in Northern 2A and it was more misery for Derby 1sts (Buxton) in Midlands 2A as they suffered another heavy defeat.
Loughborough University ran in 10 tries to clinch the Premier North A title after thrashing Northumbria University 61-6.
Joe Sharp, Sam Pointon and Sam Fisher all dotted down for Loughborough in the first period with Sharp kicking seven points to give themselves a healthy 22-6 advantage.
But that was only the beginning for the Midlands side as Dan Watt, Sam Henry, Brandon Mandivenga, and braces from Blair Hutchinson and Rhys Owen wrapped up a commanding win for the now champions of Premier North A.
Loughborough still have two games remaining this season and currently have a seven point advantage at the top of Premier North A while second placed Leeds Beckett now only have one match left.
All this means they cannot reach Loughborough even if Beckett pick up a bonus point win against Newcastle next week.
As for Northumbria, they remain sixth in the table after their eighth loss of the season and they are just six points clear of the relegation spot, which Nottingham currently occupy. Both teams have two games left with both sides taking on each other next week.
Leeds Beckett did their upmost to take the title race to their final week of the season as they comfortably beat bottom side, the University of Nottingham 64-5.
That was Beckett’s eighth win of the season, but it has been the defeats which have cost them their Premier North A crown.
Like last year, they were beaten twice by Loughborough and this season they also lost to Durham and that, combined with a Loughborough side that has won all 10 of their games this term, has been the difference for Beckett this campaign.
In terms of Nottingham, they have lost all 10 of their games and are on the verge of ending a 12 year stay in the premier division of University Rugby. It is a must win game against Northumbria.
There was another thumping in Premier North A this week as Durham University demolished an injury hit University of Leeds 71-0. Durham sit third in the table and can now finish no higher than second place.
Durham are four points behind Leeds Beckett with a game in hand so it is feasible Durham could finish in the top two.
In terms of Leeds, mathematically, they are still not safe and it is unlikely they will finish bottom and face a play-off like they did last term, but Coach Mark Luffman says his depleted side were completely overwhelmed by a rampant Durham team.
He said: “Durham played some fantastic rugby the backs producing some flowing moves on the back of the forward dominance lead by Durham 7, 8 and 1.
Loughborough University 61-6 Northumbria University
Leeds Beckett 64-5 University of Nottingham
Durham University 71-0 University of Leeds
The game of the week in Premier South A was always going to be at Hartpury College as the league leaders hosted an unbeaten University of Exeter side.
Before the game, the teams were separated by four points, but Exeter had a game in hand and that’s the way it stayed after 80 minutes of rugby in Gloucestershire as it ended 16-16 between the best two university sides in the south.
The hosts were 13-3 ahead at half-time thanks to a Penalty Try and eight points from the boot of Gareth Thompson before Exeter really sprung into life in the second period.
After the hour, a catch and drive try reduced the score to 13-10 before Thompson continued his great accuracy from the tee to stretch Hartpury’s lead, but two further kicks from Exeter secured the draw which both teams will be relatively pleased about.
Both sides have qualified for the knockout stages, but only the league winners are guaranteed the home ties that would make them favourites to reach the Twickenham final so still a lot to play for at the top.
Away from the title race, the University of Bath beat the University of South Wales 34-17 to secure their sixth win of the season.
Bath sit third in the table and have secured their Champions Trophy Finals place for the fifth straight year while the USW are bottom of this division with just one win to their name all term.
They currently sit six points from safety with two games to play, but it is looking increasingly likely that they will be face a play-off to stay in the top tier.
In the final game in Premier South A, the University of Bristol kept their Champions Trophy Finals dream alive as they clinched a 17-10 victory over Cardiff University.
The win for Bristol keeps them in touch with fourth place Cardiff Met who are four points clear of them in the last Champions Trophy Finals place. Cardiff Met do have a game in hand over Bristol so if they pick up two points or more from that match, then it becomes impossible for Bristol.
Bristol’s Joe Goodman said: “The game was a very physical and tactical kicking contest in tricky windy conditions on a sticky pitch. We played some superb phases at times to only be undone by individual errors allowing Cardiff to counter attack superbly.
“In the second half our inability to consistently apply pressure and convert a number of scoring opportunities combined with Cardiff’s scrum dominance, strong counter attacking ability and a high penalty count meant both sides struggled to gain an upper hand in the second half.”
Hartpury College 16-16 University of Exeter
University of Bath 34-17 University of South Wales
University of Bristol 17-10 Cardiff University
The mirror image of Loughborough’s 1st and 2nd university rugby teams continued this week as they 2nd XV made it 10 wins from 10 thanks to a 19-15 victory over promotion rivals Nottingham Trent University.
Loughborough were promoted from Midlands 1A last term and do remain five points clear at the top of Premier North B. In truth, they probably need just two more wins to add another piece of silverware into the trophy cabinet.
As for Trent, they have played 12 matches and are now nine points behind Loughborough with only two more league fixtures left. They look comfortable for a strong finish to the season and do have a last 16 BUCS Trophy match to contend with in two weeks’ time against Durham 3rds.
Defeat for Trent has meant that Bishops Burton have a tighter grip on second spot in Premier North B as they edged out the University of Worcester 29-32 away from home.
This was College’s ninth win of the season and they are still in the hunt for another shot a Premier North A, but know Loughborough must slip up if that is going to happen.
In terms of Worcester, they have played 11 matches so far this season and have moved a point further ahead of the bottom two due to them picking up a losing BP in this fixture. The teams below them, Birmingham and Manchester have both played two games less than Worcester so they are certainly not clear of danger just yet.
Worcester’s Head of Rugby Michael Hill said after the game: “I was very proud of the way the boys played, they stuck to the game plan, and the defensive work was outstanding throughout the game.
“The boys showed hunger to keep working and our work between the 22s was very pleasing to see. I feel execution let us down sometimes but to compare the away game to the home game you can really see an improvement and an understanding of the game plan we have been trying to put in this year.”
The bottom two clubs, the University of St Andrews and the University of Birmingham clashed on Wednesday and it was the Scottish side that picked up their first win of the season after a 29-28 victory.
The win sees the bottom club move on to seven points and they are now nine points from safety, but the Saints still have five games to play. As for Manchester, they remain four points adrift after suffering their sixth defeat of the season.
Elsewhere, Durham 2nds made it back to back wins as they beat the University of Birmingham 40-34 to leave the Midlands side still in trouble towards the relegation zone.
Loughborough 2nds 19-15 Nottingham Trent University
University of Worcester 29-32 Bishop Burton College
University of St Andrews 29-28 University of Manchester
Durham 2nds 40-34 University of Birmingham
There was a shock In Northern 1A this week as Durham University 3rds lost their first game in over a year as they were beaten by the University of Hull 35-19.
Durham had won all nine of their league matches this season, but came away from Yorkshire empty handed. Their lead at the top is still a comfortable 16 points, but Hull and Leeds Beckett 2nds both have games in hand.
In terms of Hull, after promotion from Northern 2B last season, they may have thought it would be tough to stay in this league this term, but that hasn’t been the case. They have played eight matches so far this season and won five of them which is a good return for the Humberside outfit.
Leeds Beckett 2nds secured their ninth win of the season as they beat the University of York 27-20. If Beckett do win their game in hand over Durham it will still leave them 13 points off the league leaders with four games remaining, but all they can do is keep performing well.
As for York, they sit in the bottom two at the moment and are now three points from safety having played two games more than bottom club Man Met meaning that this relegation battle is far from over just yet.
In the final fixture in this division, the University of Liverpool v University of Sheffield was postponed.
University of Hull 35-19 Durham University 3rds
Leeds Beckett 2nds 27-20 University of York
University of Liverpool P-P University of Sheffield
Loughborough 3rds are continuing the trend for their the university of topping a division as they moved six points clear at the summit of Midlands 1A after a win 21-15 win over title rivals the University of Leicester. This was Loughborough’s eighth win of the season, but Leicester will know the championship is far from over yet with four fixtures still to be played.
Harper Adams College may feel they are in with a slim chance of the title as they beat the University of Warwick 25-22 denting Warwick’s own promotion ambitions.
Harper Adams’ win puts them nine points behind the leaders having played the same amount of games while Warwick stay third in the table, seven points off the top but they do have a game in hand.
In the relegation battle in Midlands 1A, Coventry University came out on top against Oxford Brooks University as they won 34-6. That was Coventry’s first win of the season, but it looks like it will be too little, too late for them as they sit 13 points from safety with four games left.
The situation is slightly different for Oxford Brooks as they are only two points behind Nottingham 3rds who occupy the final spot above the drop zone, so this defeat is certainly a major setback in their survival challenge.
Elsewhere, in the all University of Nottingham derby, the 2nds edged out the 3rds 36-20 meaning both sides are now on 17 points with the 2nd team now out of the bottom three with this win.
Loughborough 3rds 21-15 University of Leicester
Harper Adams University 25-22 University of Warwick Nottingham 3rds
Coventry University 34-6 Oxford Brooks University
Nottingham 2nds 36-20 Nottingham 3rds
Northern 2A sparked back into life this week and table toppers Lancaster University made it six wins from six after beating Liverpool 2nds 40-8.
Relegation from Northern 1A would have been tough to take, but they have reacted in the best way possible. They currently lead the way by nine points and know that two more wins will seal them the title.
Second placed Keele University are just about keeping pace with Lancaster as they beat bottom side Edge Hill 16-10 on Wednesday. Keele have won four of their seven games this season after finishing runners-up last term, but know Lancaster have a game in hand which could ultimately kill of their promotion dreams for this campaign.
Lancaster University 40-8 Liverpool 2nds
Keele University 16-10 Edge Hill
League leaders Nottingham Trent 2nds remain three points clear at the top of Midlands 2A despite thrashing Derby 1st (Buxton) 13-79 away from home.
That was Trent’s sixth win of the season and their sixth bonus point triumph too as they continue to look strong heading into their final three league games of the season as well as they cup clash with Trent’s 2nd team.
As for Derby, they remain rooted to the foot of this table after six straight defeats and now have a points difference of -272.
Second placed Harper Adams 2nds were given a walkover result in their clash with the University of Lincoln as the home side were unable to field a team.
And in the final clash of the day, Warwick 2nds took a huge step twards stay to survival in Midlands 2A as they beat Nottingham 4ths 13-19. Nottingham are the team directly above Warwick and this victory for Warwick leaves them just a point off safety.
University of Derby 1st (Buxton) 13-79 Nottingham Trent 4ths
University of Lincoln v w/o Harper Adams College 2nds
Nottingham 4ths 13-19 Warwick 2nds