Loughborough ran in six tries as they overcame Leeds Beckett to move to the summit of BUCS Super Rugby heading into the Christmas break.
Earlier in the afternoon, Hartpury College had returned to the top with victory over Bath, but Loughborough responded by securing a bonus-point win over Beckett meaning they lead the way going into the New Year, but only on points difference.
Exeter made it seven wins on the spin as they beat Cardiff Met and their latest victory leaves them just five points behind the top two.
Elsewhere in the final round of BUCS action before Christmas, Nottingham Trent, Bristol, Liverpool and Leicester remain top of their respective divisions while once again last year’s finalists in the Women’s competition – Cardiff Met and Northumbria – did not put a foot wrong.
Loughborough 38-11 Leeds Beckett
Loughborough overcame a tough first-half to beat Leeds Beckett and to move to the top of BUCS Super Rugby.
Showing four changes from the starting XV that beat Northumbria last week, Loughborough were made to work hard for their 12-6 half-time lead against bottom of the table Beckett.
Callum Lynch and Max Hill crossed to give them the advantage at Epinal Way while despite being second best at set-pieces, the visitors were able to stay in touch from the tee.
Shortly after half-time, Beckett reduced Loughborough’s lead to just a point when they crossed for their first try of the afternoon, but that was as good as it got for the away side.
Luke Frost, Ollie Adams, Joe Doyle and Brandon Mandivenga secured a bonus point which leaves Loughborough top of the tree at Christmas.
Bath 14-24 Hartpury College
Hartpury College came from behind to squeeze past Bath to return to winning in BUCS Super Rugby.
The hosts held an 8-7 lead at the break, with Dan Rowland’s try coming after just one minute and Hugo Stiles landing a penalty.
But, after a first-half score from Harry Cochrane, Hartpury flew out of the blocks at the start of the second period as they dotted down for a converted try before Cochrane grabbed his second of the day to put John Barnes’ side in control.
Ludi Hopkinson’s drop-goal put Bath back within reach of their visitors, but a penalty from Sam Leeming secured a hard-fought win for College.
Hartpury Captain Seb Negri: “We weren’t surprised at all at the fight Bath put up. We know they are physical but they also like to play football. We wanted to look for a reaction today as we lost to Exeter last week which was a bit of a wake-up call to be honest,” he continued.
“It was important to play the wind right tonight, we felt, and the boys showed great spirt in the second half. Full credit to Bath they put up a good fight and played some good rugby”.
Cardiff Met 15-22 Exeter
Exeter made it seven straight victories in BUCS Super Rugby as they battled back to beat Cardiff Met in Wales.
The Green and Whites scrum-half Aaron Bagwell grabbed Exeter’s only try of the first-half as Cardiff Met led 10-8 thanks to a penalty from Ollie Glasse and score by Luke Northmore.
Exeter’s Thomas Rhodes and Jack Rouse both crossed after the break to put the visitors 22-10 ahead, but a try from Cardiff Met heading into the final stages of this match set-up a tense finale.
However, Keith Fleming’s men held on for the win which leaves them five points behind Loughborough heading into the New Year.
Elsewhere in BUCS Super Rugby, Northumbria host Durham tomorrow night in an all north-east affair while the final fixture of 2016 sees Leeds Beckett welcome Bath to Yorkshire next Wednesday.
In North A, league leaders Nottingham Trent remain top of this division heading into the Christmas break following a 46-17 victory over Newcastle who are now nine points behind Trent. Trent’s city rivals, Nottingham fell to their third defeat in four matches at they were beaten 19-14 by Bishops Burton College.
Elsewhere, bottom of the table Durham 2nds secured a vital victory as they beat Leeds 26-14 which leaves them five points behind Loughborough 2nds who lost 17-7 to an in-form Birmingham side.
The University of Bristol stay at the summit of South A as they thrashed Exeter 2nds 47-12 to end 2016 in style. Cardiff Met are up to second in the table after a narrow 16-13 win over UWE while Hartpury 2nds have slipped down to third in the division after losing 29-28 against Swansea. In the final fixture in South A, USW were awarded a walkover against King’s College as the hosts were unable to field a team.
Only one fixture was scheduled in North B this week and it was Loughborough 3rds that ended 2016 with victory as they beat Manchester 22-8 to secure their second win of the season.
In South B, Bath 2nds have moved to the top of the division following a 31-7 bonus-point win over Bristol 2nds. Elsewhere, Cardiff Met 2nds failed to close the gap on the front runners as they fell to a 36-15 defeat away at St Mary’s while Southampton lie fifth in this division following a 65-29 triumph over rivals Portsmouth who remain winless this term.
Northern 1A provided us with one fixture this week and league leaders Leeds Beckett 2nds made it six wins from six with a victory over Durham 4ths 43-19.
In Northern 2A, league leaders Liverpool ended the first-half of this season with a 100 per cent record after they were awarded with a walkover result against UCLan who were unable to field a team. Manchester Met are level on points with Liverpool after they secured their sixth win of the season following a comfortable 50-10 victory over Chester. In the other fixture in this division, Keele beat Bangor 34-19.
Leeds Beckett 3rds increased their lead at the top of Northern 2B to four points as they beat Newcastle 3rds 34-25 in the north-east to clinch their fifth win of the campaign. In the only other game this week, Leeds 2nds beat Northumbria 2nds 13-12.
In Midlands 1A this week, there was only one fixture as Leicester extended their lead at the top of the table to 15 points as they were awarded a walkover against bottom of the table Bedford to continue their 100 per cent record this season.
Into the Women’s competition where Premier North A table toppers Northumbria secured their seventh win of the season as they beat Durham 43-0 to extend their lead at the top to four points. Second placed Edinburgh now have breathing space between themselves and third placed Durham after the Scottish outfit beat Loughborough 39-5 while Newcastle edged past Leeds Beckett with a 35-26 win.
In Premier South A, league leaders and current champions Cardiff Met continued their winning streak as they beat Gloucestershire 30-24 away from home while Exeter came away from Bristol with a comfortable 36-0 win.
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